BATHURST pair Chantal Hodson and Jarryd Bird will both carry strong form into the Srixon International Junior Classic held at Maitland’s Easts Leisure and Golf Club commencing today.
Hodson is fresh from winning the NSW Women’s Foursomes Championship with her The Australian team-mate Carly Beck while Jarryd Bird is fresh from contesting the 80th annual Mudgee Open.
It won’t be an easy task for either of them with some of the best young golfers from across the world converging on the Hunter Valley for a crack at the title.
Hodson in particular is considered one of Australia’s best chances of winning the prestigious event along with Beck, but she knows that she will have to be at her best.
“There are some pretty good golfers coming from all over the world to play. All are of a very high standard and that’s why they have been invited,” she said.
“It’s a tournament I have always wanted to do well in. It’s one of the best Jack Newton events on the calendar.
“The goal is to finish in the top three, I’d like to win but that might be a bit bold.”
Defending women’s champion Thidapa Suwannapure won’t be among the high calibre field, but two others from Thailand will.
Also providing a threat to Hodson will be the 2010 Australian Junior Champion Annie Choi, who will represent her home nation of Korea.
“I think the Korean players will be up there, they are generally very strong at these events, but I think all of the players from Asia are very good and will be real threats,” she said.
“One of their girls [Suwannapure] won last year and I’m sure they will be up there again.”
Bird will also be throwing everything at the win but he too faces stiff competition from both the overseas competitors and his own countrymen.
Like the women’s competition, the men will be without a defending champion with Michael Williams moving up to the senior grade. Two of those who are hoping to succeed him are New South Welshmen Jarrod Freeman and promising youngster Ricky Kato.
Extra incentive for Bird to do well is the famous footsteps that he would be following if he could win. Aaron Baddeley took out the event in 1998, just months before he went on to win the Australian Open.
Hodson’s biggest motivator will be trying to keep up her strong form as she looks to the big events that are on the horizon for her.
Last Thursday Hodson teamed up with Beck and beat the teams of Adriana Brent and Allyce Watkinson and Olivia Wilson and Elle Sandak to collect the Molly McLeish trophy for the state foursomes.
When she leaves Maitland her next big event will be the Aaron Baddeley International Junior Championship Australian final in Melbourne on October 16 and 17.
There she will be gunning for a top-two finish which would guarantee her a spot in the international final in China in November.
Hodson has also found out that next year she will contest the Calloway World Junior Masters in California.