Smith has what it takes to win
BY Liz White | ALPG Tour | 2008 Women's Australian Open | Round Three | 02 Feb 2008
Today is moving day at the MFS Australian Women’s Open and for West Australian amateur Kristie Smith she’s hoping it will continue in the right direction.
The 19-year-old sits at five under the card and has a two shot lead over the world number seven, Jai Yi Shin. Many are keen to observe how the youngster handles the pressure of playing alongside the Korean on day three.
“I am going to stay focussed and composed, keep my expectations low and just go and have fun,” she said.
Smith admits trying to have fun is always difficult when the pressure of being the first amateur to win the title is in the back of your mind. When her name was atop the leaderboard late yesterday, Smith says it wasn’t easy staying calm.
“It was hard. I am an amateur leading coming down the final hole. There is a bit of stuff going on in your heard,” she said.
“I look at every scoreboard. I smiled seeing myself at the top of the leaderboard and I wanted to climb even further.”
One who believes Smith can climb further is the Director of National Elite development in Australia, Peter Knight.
“If you talk about the way she goes about playing she has improved technically over the past 12 months. It has been huge,” he said.
“I don’t think she will be bothered about playing alongside Ji Yai Shin, because she doesn’t really know about her. Also the fact that she has Wayne (her pro-golfer father) on the bag is an advantage because he has been in positions like that himself, he will be helping her.
“They’re a tremendous team.”
He said Smith proved her pedigree at last year’s gruelling LPGA Q School in the US when the 19-year-old headed over to States just to test the water. She surprised herself by making it through to the second stage of qualifying. She also finished second in the US Trans National Amateur Stroke Play and fifth in the US North and South Amateur Stroke Play.
“Last year she was our leading amateur and backed it up at the NSW Open last week where she finished leading amateur,” Knight said.
So can she win?
Without any hesitation Knight says simply: “Yes she can.”