Jake Riley knew he was up against a tough challenge on Monday when he reached the six-hole match play portion of the adidas Junior 6s Tour event at Elanora Country Club chasing his first win.
The club on Sydney’s Northern Beaches was presented in immaculate condition for the one day event despite Sydney’s recent torrential rain, with Michelle Bang taking full advantage on her way to a course record, five-under 67 to face Riley in the knockout portion.
Bang mixed seven birdies with two bogeys during her round, while Riley had an amazingly up and down day after starting with a triple bogey eight on his opening hole, the par-5 2nd. Riley managing to recover to top the boys division, setting up a showdown with Bang that had to be seen to be believed.
Hailing from Toronto Golf Club and the beneficiary of a mentorship of sorts from PGA Tour winner Nathan Green, Riley was 1-up after one hole when Bang’s ball disappeared after her second shot found the trees left of the 10th.
Bang immediately got the match back to all square at the next hole, the downhill par-4 14th where she calmly rolled in a birdie putt only for the next hole to unbelievably be halved in triple bogeys. After Riley, the recent winner of the junior section of the TPS Bonnie Doon found the hazard off the tee, Bang did the same with her second from the fairway bunker when she inexplicably took a fairway wood that failed to fully clear the lip.
The par-5 next offering Riley and advantage due to his power despite the pair playing from different tees.
Smashing his drive up the left side, Riley was left with a decision to make 240 metres from the green. Representing Pymble Golf Club these days, Riley flushed a 3-wood that missed the green pin high right but still looked in pole position before a brilliantly played approach from Bang negated the advantage.
Riley chipped up and then holed his birdie try only for Bang to miss hers and give the young man who caddied for Green at the 2018 Australian Open at The Lakes a 1-up lead once again.
That lead was again taken away at the par-3 17th when Bang holed her chip after both players missed the green left.
Sensing an advantage at the uphill par-4 18th, Riley gave his drive all he had to setup a wedge approach that he found the putting surface with, and was eventually conceded the victory when bang had trouble around the raised green.
Presented with the prizes by Tour founder Ewan Porter after the round, Riley, like many of the competitors will head to the Australian Junior full of confidence after his recent run of play that also included a close call the TPS Hunter Valley held two weeks ago at Cypress Lakes.