Su Oh is an LPGA Tour regular, former Australian Olympian and one of our brightest prospects on the world stage still just 25 years of age.
Yet the Victorian has almost slid under the radar this week at Royal Queensland, as people clamoured over the news of Steph Kyriacou and Sarah Kemp’s withdrawals following positive COVID tests before the tournament started. Oh not required for pre-tournament media commitments but now leading the event after round one.
Oh fired a clinical five-under-par 66 on Thursday around Royal Queensland, with just one blemish at the 16th hole against six birdies across the par-71.
With her fellow LPGA players ruled out and close friend Hannah Green not making the trip to Brisbane from Perth due to border restrictions, Oh became the almost unbackable favourite in the field of 24 women challenging for the Karrie Webb Cup for the first time. The 2015 Australian Ladies Masters winner making it easy to understand why with her play on the opening day.
“There was not too many mistakes, I think I just made one bad shot,” Oh said after the round. “The ball was in the wrong spot on 16, it was pretty tricky. I played quite well. I three putted seven and that wasn’t very good. Other than that, everything else was quite good.”
Oh’s “quite good” is good enough for a three-shot lead from Grace Kim at two-under, while Julienne Soo, Sarah Wilson and Karis Davidson and sit another shot in arrears following 18 holes on a tricky Royal Queensland layout where temperatures left plenty of faces Sunkissed and many a tired leg.
Playing the Geoff Ogilvy and Mike Clayton created Sandbelt Invitational the week of Christmas as her last start, Oh admits her preparation leading into this week was slightly more serious. Despite still struggling when dealing with the grainy surfaces around and on the greens.
“Sandbelt was I just didn’t really prepare for it. But I did a little bit more practice, feels a bit more like a proper tournament, not that the Sandbelt wasn’t,” Oh told Golf Australia magazine. “But this is at one course with practice rounds and a pro-am, so bit more preparation into this week.”
"I am only 25, I just started very early, in any other work I think in my position you’re doing quite well." - Su Oh.
“It is kind of not like any of the golf courses that I have ever played, very tricky. But they have a really good practice facility here to just do stuff around the greens. It is a very interesting golf course, I don’t think it is going to be very easy.”
Although the scores in the concurrent men’s PGA Championship were lower, many players agreed with Oh’s assessment of the Clayton designed layout. And with more of the same weather wise expected and perhaps few low scores, Oh might just have a chance to finally end a win drought that dates back to her second event as a professional almost seven years ago.
“It has been a while since I won a tournament, so hopefully I can get back in the winner’s circle would be nice,” she said before starting the first ever WPGA Championship.
Despite identifying a win, particularly in the U.S., where she will head after this week given the LPGA added another event, as her main goal, Oh would love nothing more than to claim the Cup named for her friend and mentor of sorts Karrie Webb.
Oh plans to have dinner with the seven-time major winner once she is back in America, and sharing a drink out of the trophy would be a good way to show her appreciation for what Webb has done for not only herself, but women’s golf in this country.
“That would be just so cool,” she said of taking home Australian golf’s newest silverware. “We said we are going to do dinner, because the first event of the year is on her coast so that would be very special. I think the more I get further along in my career I realise how much she has done.”
“Just that relationship, if I ever need anything or when you just have a question you don’t know who to ask, you can always ask Karrie what she thinks.”
And it is pretty much guaranteed that Webb would think along the same lines as Oh about where she is at in her career, whether she maintain her early form of this week or not.
“It’s sport. It is very competitive. You always get ranked. You always get judged. It is very easy from outside the ropes to judge somebody, so it is kind of blocking that also, but you just have to keep believing in yourself. And I am only 25, I just started very early, in any other work I think in my position you’re doing quite well.
“But on the women’s Tour, you’re kind of mediocre to high. You don’t really want to finish mediocre, there is nothing wrong with mediocre, I just don’t want that.”
A win here certainly would be anything but mediocre.