23 Feb 2023

Media Release:

Seven world-class female professionals will join four of the top amateurs in Australia in the field for the ground-breaking The Athena tournament next month in Melbourne, as the sport continues its push for new, exciting formats that engage with a different audience.

The Athena, a two-day event that will be broadcast live on Fox Sports and Kayo, returns to the 2022 venue, the remodelled Sandy Links in Cheltenham, where the concept received widespread acclaim last year.

The players include New South Wales rookie professional Kelsey Bennett, 22, teenage sensation Justice Bosio from Queensland, runner-up in the past two Australian Amateur championships, IMG world junior champion Keeley Marx from Melbourne and New Zealander Hanee Song, who logged three top-10 finishes on the WPGA Tour in 2022.

Karrie Webb Scholarship holder Caitlin Peirce from Adelaide and Victorian Molly McLean are both incredible amateur talents who will take their place in the field alongside more experienced players.

The Athena was started in 2021 as a collaboration between Evolve Sports Group, the WPGA Tour of Australasia and Fox Sports, but is now a joint venture between Evolve, WPGA Tour, PGA of Australia and Golf Australia.

The tournament, to be played on 4-5 March, showcases the talent and personalities of Australia’s best young women golfers, with a priority on engaging youth through entertainment.

Day one on Saturday features a set of nine skills challenges after which the top-ranked eight players progress to a four-hole match play phase on Sunday.

Its positioning is strategic as part of the golf industry’s women and girls’ engagement strategy and key initiative, ‘Women and Girls Month’ in March.

“This is a field that represents a good chunk of the best young, women players in the country,” said Karen Lunn, WPGA Chief Executive Officer today.

“It’s loaded with not only golfing ability but with personality, and that’s important for an event like The Athena, which is about the entertainment package as well as the actual golf.

“This is the next generation coming through the ranks. They’re talented, they’re bright and fresh, and they embrace this different format and the excitement that it exudes.

“I can’t wait for this event to happen again at a venue in Sandy Links that is absolutely a perfect fit. We know that The Athena is a winner from the evidence of the past two years, and we’d love to think that we can make it bigger and better in 2023.”

Last year’s Athena winner, Western Australia’s Kirsten Rudgeley, and runner-up Grace Kim have both taken great strides in 2023, Rudgeley qualifying to play on the Ladies European Tour and Kim earning her playing rights for the LPGA Tour in the United States.

South Australian Kristalle Blum’s breakthrough win at the inaugural Athena in 2021 enabled her to resurrect her dream of playing full -time professionally in Europe after few years of struggling with her game. Since that win Blum has mixed her time competing on the Ladies European Tour and the LET’s secondary Access Tour, where she broke through for her first strokeplay win as a professional at the Golf Vlaanderen LETAS Trophy in June last year.

THE ATHENA 2023 COMPETITORS

Kelsey Bennett NSW, 23 (pro)

From Mollymook, third in the Australian Amateur in 2022 and runner-up in the Women’s Asia Pacific Amateur as well as Victorian Amateur champion.

Justice Bosio, Qld, 18 (amateur)

From Caboolture, runner-up in each of the last two Australian Amateurs, and prominent in several Players Series events recently. Invited to play at Augusta National women’s event this year.

Keeley Marx, Vic, 19 (amateur)

Won the IMG World Championship in 2022, third in the Australian Amateur in 2022 and won the 2022 Tasmanian Amateur.

Caitlin Peirce, SA, 20 (amateur)

A winner of both the SA and Tasmanian Amateur championships, and a Karrie Webb Scholarship holder out of Royal Adelaide.

Kono Matsumoto, Vic, 23 (pro)

Recently turned pro after great amateur career including an Australian Junior title and the SA Amateur.

Hanee Song, NZ, 27 (professional)

A professional since 2015, brought to golf by her Korean-immigrant father at Huapai Golf Club near Auckland.

Amelia Mehmet Grohn, 25, NSW (professional)

From Coffs Harbour, studied and played golf at Iowa State University, and represented Australia as an amateur.

Rhianna Lewis, Qld, 23 (Professional)

Sunshine Coast star who won the South Pacific Classic in 2021, third in the Queensland Amateur in 2022.

Jordan O’Brien, Qld, 26 (professional)

WPGA member who turned pro in 2021, was top-10 in the TPS Murray event in 2022.

Grace Lennon, Victoria, 31 (PGA member)

Melbourne teaching professional and contemporary of Minjee Lee who has had an outstanding season in the Webex Players Series.

Molly McLean, Vic, 17 (amateur)

Rosebud and The National member who won the SA Junior in 2022, and part of winning Victorian team at the 2022 Golf Australia Interstate Series.

Sarah Yamaki Branch QLD/Japan, 26 (professional)

WPGA member who turned pro in 2018 who has also played in Japan and in the US.

 

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Photo: Golf Australia

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