Tuesday, March 31st, 2009
Rising Colac district golfer Stacey Keating will play in a glamour group for her first professional golf tournament.
Keating teed off today in the Canadian Women’s Open in Ottawa alongside one of women’s golf’s most glamorous players and the reigning Canadian Women’s Tour champion.
Keating’s group comprises American Jill McGill, who has earned more than $2 million and is one of the sought-after product earners in women’s golf, and Thailand professional Walailak Satarak.
Ironically, while Keating’s rivals are worth millions, she cannot earn a cent because of her amateur status.
Keating, daughter of Ann and Neville Keating, is unlikely to be in awe of her competitors after practising with Australian golf star Carrie Webb this week in the lead up to the biggest tournament of her short career.
The 22-year-old, from Werneth, north-east of Colac, earned a place among the game’s elite after winning the Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship earlier this month.
Mrs Keating said her daughter was living a dream of playing alongside her golfing idols.
“She’s very excited and a little bit nervous but playing with Carrie in a practice match was a great experience,” Mrs Keating said.
Keating and Adelaide golfer Stephanie Na will contest five tournaments across eight weeks, including a qualifying event for the US Amateur Championship on July 7 in Colorado.
Their first outing is the Western Amateur in Atlanta from June 16 to 21.
“I’m very excited,” Keating said yesterday.
“It’s all a learning curve. I think it will be good competition over there.”
Keating, who is now based at Sanctuary Lakes, said her first taste of US golf was about experience and she had no competitive expectations.
The 21-year-old travelled to the United Kingdom last year, winning the Irish Strokeplay Championship at Belfast.
Earlier this year she was runner-up in the Australian Women’s Amateur Championship in Adelaide to Western Australia’s Kristie Smith.
Keating said Na was a friend she met through golf and the pair organised the US trip to play tournaments in Atlanta, Colorado, North Carolina and Canada.
“Fingers crossed we get on every plane,” she quipped.
The US amateur qualifying event could lead Keating and Na to the four-round championship in Colorado from August 4.
She also plans to attend a US men’s tour event in Michigan on June 25 and 26 to watch world number one Tiger Woods in action.
Keating said her form was OK before a quiet few weeks leading up to state squad training last weekend on the Mornington Peninsula.