Sometimes it takes just one shot to turn a tournament on its head and at the Geoff King Motors Australian Ladies Classic on day two that shot was a 3-wood to the 18th hole by Golf NSW representative Steph Kyriacou.
The 19-year-old amateur from Sydney lasered the fairway wood to just eight feet then calmly rolled in the eagle putt at Bonville Golf Resort’s par-5 finishing hole to cap a personal – and tournament-best – 9-under 63.
Playing in the second to last group, Kyriacou’s heroics completely changed the complexion of the tournament from a seeming two-horse race between Lauren Stephenson and Ayean Cho to at least a three-cornered contest including the highly credentialled amateur.
Stephenson – the 18-hole leader – had some heroics of her own at the final green earlier in the day when she also made eagle to leapfrog Cho and take a one-shot lead at 14-under.
Her 8-under 64 matched the effort of Cho from the morning groups to get to 13-under and a seemingly insurmountable lead.
But Kyriacou’s brilliant round has her at 12-under with a five-shot gap to the trio’s nearest challengers, a group of three players tied at 7-under.
“I don’t even know where to start,” an ecstatic Kyriacou said after signing her card.
“I actually got off to a rocky start, hit it in the water on one but saved myself then made a birdie on two.
“Then I had a bit of a break, but I had an eagle on seven which gave me so much momentum, and I made a few birdies on the back nine.”
The blistering finish has injected some excitement into what was shaping as a potential two-horse race between Stephenson and Cho.
The pair both shot 64 Friday – easily the best of the day before Kyriacou’s storming finish – to open up what looked likely to be a six-shot buffer on their nearest pursuers.
“I’ve had eight under a couple of times,” Kyriacou said of the round.
“I was actually thinking about that over the putt at the last which probably isn’t the best.
“But when I was back in the fairway and looked down and saw all the people around the green I really wanted to have a big finish.”
Kyriacou is a former Master of the Amateurs champion and the reigning Queensland Women’s Amateur Champion. Still, the field she is competing against this week is a step up in class.
She will play Saturday’s third round in the company of both Stephenson and Cho, and that will represent both a stern test and a steep learning curve.
It’s impossible for a player to know how they will deal with the pressure of being in contention at an important tournament and Kyriacou will get the chance to find out tomorrow.
Regardless of the outcome, she will be a better player for it.