It was a noteworthy performance by Kaleigh Telfer at last week’s US Women’s Amateur Championship, but the talented 20-year-old is eager to build on her recent success, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.
In what was her very first USGA event, Telfer surprised many, including a strong field at Woodmont Country Club by making it all the way to the quarterfinals where she lost to world No 9 Rose Zhang.
And, given the testing circumstances under which she had to sharpen her preparation for the event in a small period of time due to being stuck in South African during lockdown, Telfer rose to the occasion with flying-colours.
‘It was just a great honour, especially being the biggest one (event) of the year. It was a very well-run tournament, like a professional and I’d love to play more of them in the future,’ the Auburn student told Compleat Golfer.
Telfer made a pretty solid start to the event with rounds of 71 and 75 in the 36-hole stroke play, which saw her qualify for the 64-player match-play phase.
After comfortably beating Talia Campbell 6 & 5, Telfer was set for a big clash in her top-32 matchup with Emily Mahar.
It saw Telfer produce one magnificent comeback after being three down with four holes remaining, where she clinched victory in a playoff.
For Telfer it was all about keeping things as simple as possible to remain focussed on the job at hand.
‘I realised that staying in the moment is the biggest thing and not to get down on myself, which helped me in the match where I was three down through 14 and I managed to pull it back to go down extra holes and I knew if I could just win hole 15 I would be able to pull it back and put pressure on her.’
She was particularly impressive with her iron-play and came close to two hole-outs – something that caught her by surprise.
You KNOW it’s a good tee shot when your opponent gives it to you before you reach the green!@AuburnWGolf‘s Kaleigh Telfer with the near ace to retake the lead on Kuehn. #USWomensAm pic.twitter.com/ypZxzvUHIS
— USGA (@USGA) August 7, 2020
‘It was quite a surprise for me honestly because I hadn’t play golf for three months, while being in lockdown in South Africa. I got back here (USA) with a month before the Amateur and I just put in a lot of hard work. I went to see my coach and I think it just worked out that I didn’t have any huge expectations and I could just go in there and play my best golf,’ Telfer explained.
But, for her the experience symbolised the incredible opportunity she’s been given at Auburn University, while the support she’s received from back home has also shaped her to a great extend.
‘The experience at Auburn has helped me a lot through the past three years – I’m going into my senior year now and I have learned so much here from how to practise, managing my time and the facilities are incredible.
‘The coaches are also great and there’s just a lot of small things that you can’t get at home and I can just thank Auburn for the opportunity. I really appreciate everything they do.
‘I am also just so grateful for GolfRSA. They have helped me a lot through this and playing there tournaments has also gotten me ready. Being able to play in World Amateurs was the biggest tournament before this one and I took a lot of things from that,’ Telfer added.
For now, though, it’s back to college golf for Telfer, who will be battling for more success after claiming her second collegiate title at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge back in March.
No doubt this young South African has all the qualities to develop into one of the great women golfers in years to come.