New Zealand defeats Australia to win Astor Trophy for the first time
The Astor Trophy had been proving elusive for New Zealand.
The women’s team golf event, previously known as the Commonwealth Trophy, had been held every four years since 1959 and New Zealand had finished second an agonising five times.
But that all changed in Canada last month when New Zealand broke through for victory and the delight was immense, said team manager Jay Carter.
“The girls are pretty pumped,’’ Carter said after the win.
“We talked about what the Astor Trophy meant to us and the importance of representing our country, and I think the girls really came together and embraced the challenge this week.
“The only time our name has been on the trophy was when we’ve hosted the event back in New Zealand. We chatted this morning about what the day could hold for us and the pressure that comes with that, and we just tried hard to embrace it and not shy away from it.
“To see the girls handle the pressure and get the job done is a pretty cool feeling, we’re all over the moon.”
Among the winning team of four was Julianne Alvarez from Wellington, who was playing in the Astor Trophy for a remarkable third time. She had just a few weeks earlier passed the first stage of qualifying school for the LPGA Tour, which potentially could see her playing alongside star New Zealand professional Lydia Ko.
“The first time I represented New Zealand was the Astor Trophy back in 2011 and Lydia was one of my team mates,’’ Alvarez recalled.
“To win the trophy for the first time is the icing on the cake for my amateur career. It’ll be something I remember for a long time.”
The Astor Trophy comprises teams from Great Britain and Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. The change of name from Commonwealth to Astor was to allow Ireland to join ranks with Great Britain.
Victory for New Zealand came to a tense showdown on the final day with arch rivals Australia at the Royal Colwood Golf Club.
New Zealand was leading the competition on 2.5 points and needed a draw with Australia to secure the elusive trophy.
After halving the morning foursomes one-all, the Kiwis knew that two single’s points was all that was needed in the afternoon to get the job done.
British Amateur runner-up Amelia Garvey had been leading the New Zealand team out all week and did just that again in the afternoon. The Cantabrian won four of her last six holes to claim a crucial one up victory and got the first point on the board for the Kiwis.
Carmen Lim, from Auckland, was next up to the plate, and unfortunately could not follow on from Garvey’s heroics and would succumb to her opponent Amelia Mehmet-Grohn 4 and 3.
Wenyung Keh, also from Auckland, had gone unbeaten the whole week and was eager to continue that trend and claim the final point needed.
Keh once again showed her class to seal another point for the Kiwis against Stacey White, to claim the Astor Trophy for the first time.
Knowing the contest had all but been sewn up, news quickly filtered back to Alvarez who was battling it out in the last match of the day against Emily Mahar. A half wasn’t what they wanted as they really wanted to beat their Australian rivals. When Alvarez won the 17th to win 2 and 1, the celebrations begun.
New Zealand will defend the Astor Trophy in four years’ time when it will be New Zealand’s turn to host the event.