Keh sisters' historic moment

BY NZ Golf | New Zealand Mens Amateur Tour | 2012 New Zealand Amateur Championship | Wrap | 24 Apr 2012

Lost in the record-breaking feats of Vaughan McCall at the New Zealand Amateur was a moment of golf history that might never happen again.

For the first time in the 119 years of the championship two sisters contested the New Zealand Amateur Final and it was a match befitting of the occasion.

Auckland teenagers Munchin Keh (19) and Wenyung Keh (15) are best friends who play hours of golf together at their home club Titirangi, formerly Pakuranga. They found themselves in the unfamiliar and unusual position of playing off to be crowned national champion.

Noted women’s golf historian Sue Bunt was pretty sure it was the first time it had happened.

“I’m certain it has never happened from 1908-2005 having double-checked all the match play grids for those years which NZ Golf has in the archives and we know it hasn’t happened since then,” said Bunt.

“For 1893-1907 there are no official records, only an incomplete assortment of newspaper clippings, so it’s not possible to be absolutely certain. But had it ever happened, it surely would’ve been documented and we’d know about it.”

Barely a word was spoken between the two players throughout more than eight hours of golf with Wenyung aptly saying that: “We are competitors while we are in the tournament but off the course we are sisters and friends again. We’re not talking out there. We will talk afterwards. “

Munchin ahead of the final joked: “I will talk to her if I am up in the match.”

And so it played out. The two best mates traded birdies in the sun throughout the 36 holes at the Mount Maunganui Golf Club and neither player enjoyed a margin of ascendancy of more than 3up throughout the match.

The older sister Munchin made a decisive move with a birdie on the 15th to go dormy three and looked to put the title beyond her sisters grasp. But it was far from over. Munchin gifted her younger sister the 16th and then Wenyung made a fine par save on 17 to stay alive.

Standing on the 18th tee the pair who had been inseparable all day remained that way with Wenyiung needing to win the hole to force it to extra holes. Munchin killed that idea when she delivered one of the shots of the championship.

From 150m out, in the rough on the left of the 18th fairway, the slightly built Munchin hit her approach to within a metre for a grandstand finish.
Surely that was it. But Wenyung wasn’t done and drained her birdie putt from 20 feet. Munchin coolly sunk hers from close range and the first time two sisters had contested the National Championship had a fitting ending.

Finally the two sisters hugged and talked about their round and both walked off the 18th smiling to a round of applause from the local golfers.

“It was special to play against my sister. This is a match I’ll always remember and I will always think of my shot to the 18th as a good memory.”

It was also a proud moment for the Titirangi Golf Club as the pair has been members there since joining on January 23 and formerly playing at Pakuranga.

Doug White, the Golf Director at the Alister McKenzie designed layout in Auckland, first met the Keh family when he was a member at Pakuranga.

He initially met the father Michael and the son Gim, who is also a very good golfer, and it was only after a few months that he met the sisters Munchin and Wenyung.

“Munchin and Wenyung are both very quiet and will only really talk when they are spoken to, they both have a fantastic work ethic and will tend to do their own things when practising,” said White.

“I have not seen them be overly competitive with each other but I am sure the fires are burning. One thing that is very impressive is how they handle themselves with both Wenyung and Munchin having an almost unflappable demeanour on the course.

“I do remember asking Wenyung who her favourite golfer was and she replied her sister Munchin. As a club Titirangi are very proud of what Munchin and Wenyung have achieved in being the first sisters to ever play in the Women’s amateur final, I do think it is fair that a great deal of the accolades should go to Pakuranga as they have had a greater input into sisters development.

“Because of what Munchin and Wenyung have achieved they will be held in very high regard at the club for many years to come.

“I think it was a very fitting final with the elder sister winning, form to date suggests Munchin is more consistent than Wenyung. Both sisters have the ability to do great things and if both of them continue to improve they could drive each other to the top of women’s golf internationally.”

It’s a moment of golf history that may never happen again. Two sisters battling it out for the New Zealand Amateur title and it is a moment worth commemorating.

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