Kelsey Bennett dominates at The Athena.

Words: Release.

Photo: Australian Golf Media.

NSW’s Kelsey Bennett has blitzed her way through the Sunday match-play finals to be crowned – literally  – The Athena champion. The 24-year-old, who celebrated her birthday only weeks ago, played consistently in Saturday’s Combine skills challenges, plotting her way around without any stand-out shots, before a clinical Sunday performance.

The Mollymook product revealed she was saving her best game for the Sunday matches around a four-hole routing on Peninsula Kingswood’s North Course, going -1, -1 and Even in her three matches.

“I just felt like I knew exactly where the ball was going to go the whole time, so yeah, it’s a good feeling,” Bennett said, drenched in champagne.

Bennett faced the in-form Jess Whitting in her first match of the day, and looked to have the win secured before a long par-saving Whitting putt on the last. Forced to make a tester now for par herself to tie and force a putt-off, Bennett stepped up and poured it in, and again in the putt-off while Whitting missed. Her second match proved to be a little easier, with Sarah Yamaki Branch – who knocked out day one leader Cassie Porter – struggling off the tee against Bennett.

NSW’s Amy Chu, who defeated Steph Bunque in an extended putt-off and Elmay Viking in rounds one and two,  now stood between Bennett and the trophy. An eagle-par-par start for Bennett, to Chu’s birdie-bogey-bogey afforded Bennett a three-shot buffer heading down the last.

Finding the fairway bunker off the tee, then the back greenside bunker, Bennett’s buffer began to shrink. The shrinking continued on the putting surface with a couple of missed putts, but the scoring and hard work over the first three holes allowed for that, Bennett finally tapping in to make The Athena trophy and $30,000 winner’s cheque her own.

Bennett heads to the Singapore Women’s Open next week, before the Women’s NSW Open and the Australian Women’s Classic, where a another win could prove life-changing. The Athena is Bennett’s biggest win, adding to her WPGA Tour of Australasia Qualifying School win last year.

In true Athena fashion, all the competitors were out supporting the remaining groups all day, where the camaraderie and fun atmosphere bleeds into the strong competition.

In its fourth year, The Athena has demonstrated again that this is golf done different. It is fun, exciting, and let’s Australia’s brightest golfers showcase their skill and personality.

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