Golf: Nothing to lose for Bay top seed

By Anendra Singh


Toothbrush, check. Sunblock check. iPod, check. Cellphone, check. Hat marker, check. Toilet bag, ... and the list goes on.

Kate Chadwick laboriously and meticulously packed her suitcase late yesterday afternoon, no doubt having got the golf bag out of the way in good time before boarding her flight to Christchurch.

While father Fred and mum Llesley Chadwick made sure their daughter didn't forget the family digital camera, the 20-year-old top amateur golfer from Hawke's Bay is mindful the next three days from tomorrow will transcend any essentials she packs in her suitcase or golf bag.

Never mind the whimsical sales pitch from some underarm deodorant or cosmetic company about wearing that cool charm under immense pressure.

When the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women's Open tees off tomorrow at the Clearwater Golf Glub, the Napier Golf Club member knows she'll have to not just put on a facade of composure but feel it and be unflappable in every sense of the word.

No doubt the big-hitting scratchie won't have a choice about packing a healthy dose of nerves when she plants the ball on the No10 tee mound a shade after 2pm when Korean professional Joo Ga Eun will have sent her dimpled titanium into orbit.

"I guess so I'll try to be cool," Chadwick says, banking on talking to her father who will be lugging her bag.

Australian professional Jana Welsford will not only be the last in Chadwick's group of three but the entire field of 144 elite golfers at the Open.

The trio will be in the 10th group to tee off again on Saturday in round two from the same back nine although half the field will play two rounds tomorrow.

"Hopefully we'll be in a small [low-profile] group but I don't think it'll bother me much."

Having idolised Englishwoman Laura Davies, Chadwick will breathe a sigh of relief the veteran professional isn't in her group although she was still clueless as to who her playing partners were when she boarded her flight last night with her parents and brother Sam, 17, who is also a budding amateur.

"She's [Davies] cool and she's always been there and she's the only female golfer I've really known."

Chadwick has seen New Zealand teenage sensation Lydia Ko around the national circuit and even spoken to her briefly a couple of times but confesses only knowing of the women's world No1 amateur.

Although defending champion Lindsey Wright, of Australia, has withdrawn due to injury, Ko faces three former champions in Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera (2009), Davies (2010) and Australian Kristie Smith (2011).

Ko, Wellington No1 Julianne Alvarez, Auckland sisters Munchin Keh and Wenyung Keh, and Sarah Bradley all qualified as the top-five finishers from the 2012 order of merit.

New Zealand Golf offered two Australian amateurs places - Minjee Lee, who won the Australian Amateur, and Su-Hyun Oh, who finished in a share of second place at last week's Volvik RACV Ladies Masters.

The last amateur among nine to book her place was Otago representative Laura Hoskin. The Arrowtown golfer was the only amateur to advance from the final qualifying event at the Christchurch Golf Club.

An amateur has never won the Open, with Ko coming closest in 2011 when she finished in a share of fourth.

The annual tournament has attracted a world-class field including Cheyenne Woods, a niece of Tiger Woods, who is among the 32 LPGA Tour players. The all-star cast that forms the strongest field assembled for the Open also includes European No1 Carlota Ciganda.

Hawke's Bay-Poverty Bay top seed Chadwick will be trying to tame the Clearwater fairways by virtue of having won the New Zealand Maori Matchplay title in Taupo last month.

It is her third NZ Maori title in four years, having lost it in the second year.

Maori golf also kitted out Chadwick and her father and also paid for her and her parents' airline tickets. The family will stay with Llesley's aunt and uncle, Joy and Brian Pearce.

With studies her priority in the past three years, Chadwick had shelved any childhood dreams about becoming a professional in the cut-throat world of golf.

The Clearwater experience will no doubt rekindle her flame but whether she will put her nursing career aside to take a giant leap of faith into professionalism remains to be seen.

Chadwick has never played at the par-72 Clearwater course. Her only foray in Christchurch came at the NZ Amateur in 2011 at Russley Golf Club.

Asked what she knew of the course, a laughing Chadwick replied: "There's a bit of water on it."

Her father has caddied for her on and off since she pencilled in her first card at the age of 13 and someone she puts in a nutshell as "fun".

Her mother is equally adept in carrying her golf bags but a "nurse's back" has robbed her off that joy.

"The bag's too heavy for mum," says the former Napier Girls' High School pupil who has graduated from the Eastern Institute of Technology with nursing qualifications and only last week started work at the Hawke's Bay Hospital in Hastings.

Fred says Kate is "her mother's daughter", personified by her empathy for others in following Llesley's age-old and dignified profession of nursing.

His role will be to blend into the background and offer a sense of tranquillity that will help soothe her jangled nerves.

"She just needs to be calm and in the moment when it becomes tense and quiet," the 55-year-old electrician says, believing taking the "personal stuff out of it" is vital.

"It's too late to try to change anything - play with what you know and enjoy yourself out there."

Fred says it's no secret that Chadwick's on a hiding to nothing in a world-class field.

Compounding the size of the challenge was the inability of a "driven Kate" to take time off work for the practice rounds on Tuesday and yesterday.

"There aren't too many nurses who will have ever played in the NZ Golf Open," he says.

"Amateurs have everything to gain and nothing to lose," he says of Chadwick whose few hours of putting and chipping after work pales in comparison with the practice of the elites who live and breathe the game.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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