Sarah Hammett sheepishly acknowledges that golf is taking priority over school at present.
The 16-year-old Year 11 student at Somerset College on the Gold Coast squeezed in one day of classes in between the Women’s NSW Open that finished last Sunday at Tuncurry and the Australian Women’s Classic that starts at Bonville Golf Resort tomorrow.
There was a psychology assignment on sleep deprivation to submit, 2.5 hours of math classes and an unexpected discussion with head of the science department, Miss Wiley, about how close she came again to winning a professional golf tournament.
But if she is struggling to keep pace with the educational demands of high school, Hammett is well and truly enrolled in the advanced learning stream of tournament golf.
And it began at Bonville Golf Resort on the Coffs Coast 12 months ago.
Drawn to play with Swedish rising star Maja Stark in the second-to-last group in the final round, Hammett led the tournament with just four holes to play.
It momentarily sent Ladies European Tour officials scrambling to find when a 15-year-old amateur had last won one of their events, England’s Meghan MacLaren ultimately coming through to claim victory.
While her school friends may not have noticed – “Not many people at school know about how golf works” – Hammett returned to class with greater belief that she could one day graduate in golf with honours.
“It definitely feels good coming back here,” Hammett said on Thursday.
“When we left last year, it didn’t really sink in until a couple of days after of how well I had done in a pro tournament and that my game is close to the professionals.
“Last year I got to play with Maja Stark in the final round and now she’s moved on to be on the LPGA.
“That’s just really cool, that I got to play with her here.
“Now knowing that Maja Stark has moved on to be so high up, I did feel that my game was a step closer to being professional.
“Just watching them and playing alongside them, I learnt heaps about the areas in which I need to improve in my game.
“I’ve still got a long way to go.”
Born in England to Zimbabwean parents and a naturalised Australian since last August, Hammett is clear about the path she wants to take.
Since their Sunday pairing 12 months ago, Stark has won four times on the Ladies European Tour, once on the LPGA Tour and risen to be currently the No.28-ranked player in the world.
Tied for sixth last year at Bonville with fellow Queenslander Justice Bosio as leading amateur, Hammett knows that she is not there yet.
She flirted with another win at the Women’s NSW Open last Sunday at the Tuncurry Golf Course, storming back with an eagle on 15 and birdie on 16 to take the lead with two holes to play.
After missing the green right at the par-4 17th, Hammett hit her chip shot to the opposite side of the green, ultimately making double bogey to finish one shot outside of the playoff between Momoka Kobori and NSW amateur Claire Shin.
It was yet another lesson in what it takes to succeed at the highest level.
“Definitely another step forward,” said Hammett.
“The whole experience dealing with nerves and stuff is cool because when you get up to higher levels you know you can deal with the pressure.
“I was really nervous coming down the last two holes because I thought that I might be leading.
“It got to me a little bit on my chip on 17 but last week was a really good experience and I was really happy with my result.”
A win this week would unquestionably earn her top marks.
Last week’s winner Momoka Kobori is expected to feature prominently once again with Wales’ Lydia Hall, Kiwi Hanee Song and Kelsey Bennett, Kristalle Blum and Stephanie Bunque the other leading professional contenders.
Other amateurs to watch include Belinda Ji (NSW), Godiva Kim (Queensland) and Keeley Marx (Victoria).
Round 1 starts at 9.30am AEDT on Friday with the third and final round to be played Sunday.