Faith Vui and her father Gary, who was there every shot of the way.
Photo/ Golf NZ
Record-breaking win brings Faith Vui one step closer to her ultimate LPGA dream.
*Republished with permission by Stuff.co.nz
Faith Vui has made golfing history by becoming the first Samoan to win the New Zealand women’s amateur championship on Sunday.
The 18-year-old secured victory in the 36-hole final at the Hamilton Golf Club St Andrews course, with her father and coach, Gary, as her caddie. She beat Amy Im 5 and 3 in the final. Im was ranked third, while Vui was ranked 16th.
Vui never trailed during the final, establishing a lead which she held the entire day. While Im rallied later in the day, it was Vui’s “outstanding putting” that enabled her to secure the championship on the 33rd hole.
She was overwhelmed by her result and thanked her dad, who was by her side for every shot.
“I’m trying not to cry. I’m just really happy – I can’t explain it. I’m extremely proud of myself, but I couldn’t have done it without my dad,” she said.
“He was probably the biggest reason why I won … he’s had such a positive influence on me and my golf. I’m grateful and happy to share the experience with him and my other family that came out.
“Hopefully, this will show people that even though we’re from Samoa, we can still achieve great things with hard work.”
The victory helped bring the Royal Samoa Golf Club member one step closer to her dreams of being the first Samoan to play professionally on the LPGA Tour.
“Winning this event has been one of my biggest goals. My dream is to be the first Samoan to play on the LPGA Tour, and this is a stepping stone to that. I’m really happy and grateful to my father for giving me the opportunity to be here,” she said.
Father Gary said: “I’m so proud to be a dad. I’m so proud to be the coach and caddy. I just love my kids. Her dream is to play professionally, and now that she’s achieved something as big as this, she believes in herself now.
“I didn’t tell a lot of people back home that she was in the final because I didn’t want her to feel any extra pressure. I can tell them now though.”
In the men’s competition, 17-year-old Cantabrian Sebastian May claimed the championship with a victory over Aucklander Steven van Heerden, 6 and 5. His round included a 15-foot putt to win on the 31st hole.
Making the sport his priority in 2023 paid off.
“I’m pretty speechless. It’s pretty unreal – I don’t think it’s sunk in just yet,” the talented hockey and cricket player said of his weekend’s success.
May’s involvement in the weekend’s championships were only decided at short notice, as the high school student had exams. Because he didn’t expect to make the finals, there was a mad dash to book last minute accommodation by his mum.
“The goal was to make the top 32 for the match play when I decided to play. I have a couple of exams lined up next week. I wasn’t actually sure if I was going to play this week ... I’m glad I did,” he said.
His older siblings Zach and Maddie are both golfers in the US college system, and the youngest May said his victory still might not give him the “best golfer in the family” title, but it was a positive step in the right direction.
“I’m not sure they would be happy with me claiming that title,” he laughed.