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Aussies storm home for third

World Junior Championship
Steph Kyriacou, left, Issy Taylor and Grace Kim relax, Japanese style, after their round.

The Australian team earnt reward for its impressive effort today, charging home to share third place at the World Junior Championship in Japan.

Led by Queenslander Isabelle Taylor, the young Aussie team rebounded superbly from a disappointing third round to card a combined one-under score, the team’s best for the week.

It enabled Australia to leap back past South Africa and into a share of third with Italy at seven over for the week. The American team won overall, fending off Japan with a four-under final round to reach -12, five clear of the host in second place.

Taylor, of Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast, could have been excused for a lesser effort after her third-round  80 on the Chukyo Golf Club’s Ishino Course, east of Nagoya.

But the ever-improving 16-year-old is made of sterner stuff and pushed hard all day, making some incredible par saves when the tide seemed to be turning against her.

Taylor’s rewards came with birdies on five, eight and nine, then again on 14. But she saved her best to last in a superb three-under-par round of 69 that left her in 10th place individually at eight over for the week.

She hammered a drive 260m into what coach Dean Kinney described as a “seemingly unreachable bunker” off the 18th tee.

“She was faced with a 65-yard bunker shot off a downslope over water with water over the green,” Kinney said.

“I asked her, `What are you thinking here?’ and she responded, `I am just going to hit it on the green’.

“And she did – to about 15 feet – an incredible shot, probably the shot of the tournament.”

Grace Kim, of Sydney, provided Australia’s other counting score when she turned in another consistent 74 to finish the week at five over and, impressively for the Australian Junior champion, in a share of sixth place individually.

“Grace led us out today and was very solid as always setting a great platform for the other two and helping with the clubbing for the following groups,” Kinney said.

“She’s been fantastic all week.”

Fellow New South Wales state player Steph Kyriacou also fought all the way before signing for a closing 75 for an 11-over total and a share of 13th individually.

“Steph holed a nice 25-foot birdie on the first hole, but the putter went cold from there,” Kinney said.

As the wind whipped up and with the greens firming and pins tucked away, Kyriacou couldn’t find another birdie, but impressed with her fight to the end.

“I think Steph learnt an incredible amount from playing in such a prestigious event with the best junior players in the world,” Kinney said.

“For that matter, all the girls had a great learning experience – not only on the course, but off it as well with such incredibly gracious hosts.

“It’s been a great week all round and (co-coach) Lisa (Newling) and I are really proud of the girls, especially given how young they are compared to the other teams.”

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