Bonville Golf Resort, 5 - 7 April, 2024

The Australian Women's Classic Bonville - Presented by Pacific Bay Resort Studios

HAYES: Champions all, and deservedly so

Bonville Golf Resort has one of the great collections of its own history plastered all over its walls.

So when Jess Whitting, Nicole Broch Estrup and Peiying Tsai walk back into the clubhouse in years to come, they’ll most assuredly be recalled as champions of the Australian Women’s Classic.

In time, they’ll also recall their shared victory fondly.

But for now, this is the day that they were given the “W” without hitting a ball. To a woman, they felt a little hollow after an overnight thunderstorm and persistent morning rain left officials with no choice but to abandon what was already a rain-shortened event.

Their 18-hole scores remain, the trio left atop the leaderboard at six under and prizemoney paid out in half measure.

But, by LET rules, no world rankings points, no order of merit points and no “official” victory.

All manner of options were tossed around by organisers in the hope of getting 36 holes done to avoid these rules being exercised.

But in the end, a tsunami of logistics – combined with the continually tumbling rain – washed away their best intentions.

On face value, Whitting, had arguably the most to gain.

A decorated but late-blooming amateur from Western Australia, Whitting has only recently graduated from the University of Southern Florida and is making her way on the WPGA Tour as a rookie this season.

An “official” win would likely have vaulted her into the world’s top 400 players and enabled her to bypass the first stage of LPGA Q School later this year.

It would also have given her the option to take up LET membership for two seasons, not to mention the extra cash.

“It’s hard because I wanted a chance to go out there and play and prove myself,” the Perth 26-year-old said.

“But then it’s also a great outcome because, who knows, I could have gone out there and not played well and fallen down the ranks … but it’s out of my control.

“I’m pretty excited though, it’s a pretty cool thing to write down on the resume.”

You can almost hear the conversation between the Devil Jess and Angel Jess sitting on her shoulders.

She slept well, partly because, she said, that she was completely exhausted after her day one heroics.

“I was proud of myself where I am when you haven’t been at this point before (on a big tour) and tried not to think about the future,” she said.

“If I’d warmed up and sat on the first tee, the whole 18 holes would have been full of nerves, but I’ll never know.

“The one thing that has not upset me, but maybe has changed my plans … is that had I maybe won today, this might have changed the rest of the year for me.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy. But it’s a shame not to get the points because I’m not sure if I’ll get in the Aus Open yet, or it flashed into my mind that I could be an LET player.”

From a different perspective, Taiwanese ace Tsai most certainly had the Olympics on her mind.

The cash is always nice and on a third visit to Bonville, a course “I really like”, she was clearly happy to pose in the winners’ photo.

“It feels a little bit weird, because I wanted to play today,” Tsai said.

“But they are very good players, it’s a good course so it’s also very exciting.

“It’s good (to be a winner), but it would be good to play, to try.”

Broch Estrup is part of an impressive surge of players from Denmark and was delighted to awaken this morning to a message of best wishes for the final round from none other Danish Olympic golf captain Thomas Bjorn.

Her form has been impressive of late and she was very much hopeful of a fifth professional victory. So much so that news of the cancellation of the final round reached her on the sodden practice range.

“Yeah, I thought I’d do something and I really want to go play golf, so it’s unfortunate we can’t. I have things I want to improve,” she said with a typical smile.

“(The win) right now feels weird, I don’t know what to think about it. I guess a win is a win, but hopefully I get another `real’ win this year. But obviously I’ll take it.

“I woke up at midnight, heard that thunderstorm and rain and I thought, `We’re not playing golf today’.

“It’s a shame for the tournament, I picked Australia over South Africa because I love Australia and it’s a shame for this tournament to be washed away.

“But the start of the year has been really good for me, so it’s really positive.”

So the caravan packs up from Bonville and some of the players head to the inaugural World Sand Greens Championship in Walcha in nearby New England, some to South Africa and some simply home.

They’ll leave with various thoughts on a tournament that will forever hold an asterisk, but almost to a woman with fond memories of the venue.

“It’s (a) cool course, so beautiful,” Tsai said.

“I’ll always be happy here.”

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