Aussie golf prodigy set for major debut

Sydney teenage sensation Steph Kyriacou is nervous but excited ahead of her long-awaited major championship debut at the women's British Open at Royal Troon.

STEPHANIE KYRIACOU of Australia hits her tee shot during the TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup at the Chukyo Japan.
STEPHANIE KYRIACOU of Australia hits her tee shot during the TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup at the Chukyo Japan. Picture: Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images for TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup

It's not the most conventional preparation for golf's greatest challenge but it will have to do for Sydney sensation Steph Kyriacou.

In lockdown virtually since turning professional in March, Kyriacou has been honing her game for this week's women's British Open playing money matches with the men on her home course at St Michael's.

"That's how I had some income during this time," Kyriacou told AAP on the eve of her long-awaited major championship debut at Royal Troon.

"Like 50 buck games. We play a lot for lunch. So I got a few free few lunches.

"When I have some money, I'll be playing with the big boys - a couple of hundred."

The 19-year-old will be playing for significantly more this weekend after booking her ticket to Troon with a stunning eight-shot victory - as a teenage amateur - at the Australian Ladies Classic in February.

"I'm very excited but it's just scary because I've gone from playing the amateur events at the beginning of the year and now I'm playing in the biggest tournament. It's a huge jump," Kyriacou said.

"I'm going straight into it. Honestly, if I make the cut I'll be stoked. But I'm going to try and win because that's what I'm here for - to win.

"I don't know how likely it is but I'm going to attempt it."

No one in their right mind thought Kyriacou would win the Australian Ladies Classic either but, like a seasoned pro, the prodigy turned a three-stroke final-round lead into a procession at the European Tour event.

Then COVID-19 abruptly halted Kyriacou's rapid rise.

She double-bogeyed the last hole to miss the halfway cut at the following week's NSW Open before having to wait almost five months for her next - and only second - professional event.

That was last week's Scottish Open and another missed cut, but priceless learning experience.

"I was so nervous last week, I was scared and it was almost like I forgot how to play golf," she said.

Upon reflection, Kyriacou realised her shortcomings were merely that - she was so nervous she left every shot short.

And after a couple of practise rounds with Aussie big guns Minjee Lee and 2019 US PGA champion Hannah Green, and some "swing thoughts" from coach Gary Barter, Kyriacou is ready to go again.

"It's meant to be really windy when we're playing so that'll be challenging," Kyriacou said.

"But there's never been a (women's) major here so I guess it's pretty even now for everyone."