MELBOURNE, Australia– Swingderella has carved an imprint on Australian golfing grounds. And with her pair of golf shoes on.
Alessandra Krstine “Ella” Nagayo, who goes by the monicker Swingderella for her big splash in the Australian junior golf circuit, accomplished what she narrowly missed last year–win the State Finals title.
The 14-year old Nagayo captured the 2018 School Sports Victoria Junior State Finals recently at the Gardiners Run Golf Course in Melbourne earning for herself a spot to the Under 15 Victoria State Team to the National Finals in November against the best Under 15 State Teams of Australia. The top two players in the Boys and Girls division of the Junior State Finals automatically get a spot in the State Team which will compete in the Under 15 National Championships in Sydney.
Representing Rowville SC, Nagayo sizzled with a three over 75 in the tough par-72 course under cold and windy conditions to slay the ghost of last year’s runner-up finish. Jazy Roberts of Crusoe College finished second with a round of four over 76 and rounding out the top three positions was Kayli Schenk (Maribyrnong College) with a six over 78.
In an interview with Edge Davao, Nagayo gave her hole by hole account as she started at a mid-day shotgun tee off at 12:30.
“I didn’t really start my round good, I started off with a bogey at hole number 9,” Nagayo said recalling a hooked tee shot at the left side fairway before recovering her bearings with a good second shot to get on for three. She had a long birdie putt but muffed twice and made the third.
On the par 5 10th, she had another hook drive to the left side of the fairway and was forced to punch her ball back into play. Her third shot fell 90 yards to the pin and then sank a six-footer for birdie. In the par 3 11th, she picked the wrong club and drove to the bunker. Her blast went awry and she had two putts for bogey.
She had a par on the 12th but went down again with a double bogey 6 on the 13th with another trip to the greenside bunker. She recovered with a birdie on the par 4 14th despite another bunker shot. After two pars on 15 and 16, she turned hot again with a birdie on 17 with a good chip and tap in for birdie. On the 18th she limped with another bogey and was two over after the backside nine.
She sputtered on the first three holes on the front with a bogey binge before halting the slide with a two-putt par on the par 4 4th and a birdie on the 5th barely missing a spectacular eagle from the bunker. With a four over par card and three holes to play, she hit a good tee shot but landed in a bad spot on the fairway, missed an 8-foot birdie putt and walked off with par.
After an easy regulation par on the 6th, she hit bad chip and was left with a 9-foot birdie putt which she sank to close out with a three-over enough to nail her first major title on Australian soil.
“It was a tricky birdie putt but I kept myself calm,” Nagayo, daughter of former city councilor Rachel and Melbourne-based golfing businessman-nurse Danny, said.
In the boys championship the spread of scores was impressive, plenty of players shooting close to par, with the top three needing to go under to take home the title positions. Out in front was young gun Thomas Hanson (Trinity College) recording a four under round of 68. In a close second was Baxter Droop (Sacred Heart College) with a round of two under 70, and in third on a count-back was Michael Song (Rowville SC) with one under 71.
In the overall handicap event it was Eric Smith (Brauer College) and Louise Rose Baliton (Maribyrnong College) who finished out in front.