Aussies off to a flyer

Australian World Junior Championship team
Grace Kim (left), Issy Taylor and Steph Kyriacou unwind after their impressive first round in Japan.

The young Australian team has surged into early contention at the Toyota World Junior Championship in Japan.

Led by a sparkling even-par 72 by Sydney’s Steph Kyriacou, the Aussie women finished a combined one-over par in the teams’ division, just one behind the United States and tied for second with Italy.

They are already three shots clear of France, South Africa, host Japan and Colombia who share fourth after day one of four.

Coach Dean Kinney said the “girls were awesome”, with Australian Junior champion Grace Kim carding a 73 and emerging Queenslander Isabelle Taylor a 76 to give the team a combined 145 on the best two scores at the Chukyo Golf Club’s Ishino Course, east of Nagoya.

“I think we are the youngest team here by a significant amount, so that’s a great performance,” Kinney said.

Playing alongside the Americans and South Africans, the Australians dropped at least a shot each on the first hole, but then knuckled down to the task superbly.

Kyriacou, 16, a member at St Michaels in southern Sydney, birdied the fifth to go square again, then made a great two at the short 12th to get into red figures.

Only a bogey on the 17th dropped Kyriacou to a tie for fifth on the individual leaderboard, headed by Italian Benedetta Moresco at two under.

Kim, 16, her fellow New South Wales state team representative, shares seventh individually with the Avondale member’s late birdie on the par-four 17th enough to eradicate her only other bogey on the long sixth hole.

Taylor, 16, a member at Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast, doubled the first but did really well to stay composed on her international debut.

Her second birdie, on the long 13th, was enough to have the Queenslander back to two over before two late bogeys dropped her to a share of 13th individually.

The second round will be played tomorrow.

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