Europe cruises to APGC junior victory

Finland’s Sakke Siltala and England’s Caitlin Whitehead have triumphed effortlessly in the Asia-Pacific Junior Championship in Hong Kong.

Siltala and Whitehead combined to return a score of 263 – eight shots ahead of their nearest rivals.

The Korea 1 team of Selin Hyun and Seunghyun Oh finished on 271 while Korea’s team 2 of Hyelim Jo and Min Wook Gwon was in outright third on 276, just one shot ahead of Thailand team 1.

Playing through wind and rain, the Europe 1 team of Sakke Siltala and Caitlin Whitehead posted a 17-under-par four-round score to collect the 2018 Mitsubishi Corporation Cup event held at The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club from August 29-31.

Siltala fired an individual round of 69 to win the Boys’ Overall Tournament, narrowly beating Jye Pickin of Australia 2 and Josh Greer of Australia 1, who finished tied for second at 70. Whitehead shot a six-under par 64 to claim the Girls Overall title, beating Hyun of Korea 1 and Jo Hyelim of Korea 2, both of whom shot 68.

Siltala and Whitehead were playing for more than the team and individual tournament titles. By winning the Boys and Girls Overall championships, Sakke also qualified to play in the Asia-Pacific Open Golf Diamond Cup 2018 in Japan and Caitlin in the 2019 Korea Women’s Open.

Inclement weather forced tournament organisers to reverse the format of this year’s tournament and hold stroke play on day 1. The stroke play competition featured a standard 18-hole round with a seeded draw where male and female players each produced individual scores toward their teams’ final four-round totals. Foursomes and fourball were played on days 2 and 3.

Six teams from host nation Hong Kong competed in this year’s tournament. The Hong Kong team 1 of Cyrus Lee Yu-fung and Selina Li Yuen-yuet finished 15th with a score of 291, while the Hong Kong team 2 of Inara Diti Sharma and Yu Ka-jun finished 20th at 297.

Sakke was part of the European team, which had a special invitation to compete.

Meanwhile, Boys’ joint runner-up Jye Pickin said he was confident he would handle the step up to the senior ranks after finishing his junior career with his best international result.

Pickin, who has just turned 18, is a Macquarie College

year-12 student shot who performed extremely well in difficult conditions at the Clearwater Country Club in Hong Long. 

“It was one of my top three results,” Pickin told the Newcastle Herald.

“I would have been happy with a top five and to get second was great. I played the same tournament two years ago and finished 12th. The course was set up in championship style. They have a big professional event there every year and it was set up the same way. The conditions were fairly brutal, with wind and rain.

“The winner played a couple of groups behind me. There were a few putts I just missed down the stretch. But I didn’t think much of it at that stage, I was just trying to birdie the next hole.”

He had earlier partnered Queenslander Cassie Porter, one of two mixed Australian combinations, in four-ball and foursomes and finished seventh in the teams event.

Pickin had to bring forward his business studies trial HSC exam to travel to Hong Kong.

Next is the NSW Open at Twin Creeks from November 8-11. Pickin earned a start against the professionals as reward for winning the NSW Junior Open.

“You just have to put it out of your head that they are professionals,” he said. “You can still play as good as them. It’s about having that mindset.”

One of the APGC’s marquee events, the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation Junior Championship for the Mitsubishi Corporation Cup 2018 follows the Youth Olympic Games format, pairing a junior male and female player on each team and totalling their combined scores over four rounds to determine the winner. 

The 2018 tournament featured 68 players representing 16 countries and regions, including Australia, China, Chinese Taipei, Europe, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand and Mongolia. Previous winners include Japan in 2017 and Korea in 2015 and 2016.

Players who are 17 years or younger as of 29 August are eligible to enter the tournament. Each APGC member can enter a maximum of two teams.

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