Australia’s Steph Kyriacou says she has fulfilled one of the first aims of her dazzling debut year in professional golf by winning the prestigious Ladies European Tour “Rookie of the Year” award.
The LET confirmed on Monday that the 20-year-old from Sydney had followed in the distinguished footsteps of major championship winners Annika Sorenstam, Suzann Pettersen and Anna Nordqvist by winning the title.
The accolade completes a superb debut year as a professional for Kyriacou, who won the title by 92 points from England’s Alice Hewson.
Kyriacou was left anxiously waiting to hear whether she had landed the prize while in quarantine back in Australia following her European trip.
She had been forced to miss the last event of the season in Marbella because she couldn’t afford to turn down the rare chance of a flight home.
“It was one of my goals at the beginning of the year so I am glad that I could tick this one off the list,” said a delighted Kyriacou.
“There are some big names on the trophy and one of my friends has been updating me every week on my progress and as the season went on, I started to think I had a good chance.”
Kyriacou made an extraordinary breakthrough as a teenage amateur at the start of this year, winning the Australian Ladies Classic Bonville, before immediately turning professional and joining the Tour.
Despite the fact that the points she gained with her breakthrough win did not count towards the title race, it did not stop the youngster proving herself the best new talent on the LET.
On a four-month, five-country, eight-tournament trip to Europe and the Middle East, while accompanied by her dad Nick who acted as her caddie, she gained five top-10 and two runner-up finishes.
She becomes the third Australian to win the Rookie award following Rebecca Stevenson (2003) and Nikki Garrett (2006).
“When I was playing amateur events, I thought I was ready but then I was so nervous in the first few events as a professional. Once I had made a few mates on tour though, I started to feel more comfortable,” Kyriacou said.
“People think I look calm out there, but I am feeling the nerves just as much as anyone. I am so happy to win this title.”
Alexandra Armas, the Ladies European Tour’s CEO, said: “Stephanie has shown tremendous resilience in her first year as a professional.
“She has taken quickly to life on tour and kept us entertained with her exciting play on the course and easy-going attitude off it. She should be incredibly proud of her achievement.”
Next year, Kyriacou has the chance to make a unique piece of golfing history.
As there will be no 2020 LET Qualifying School and, for the first time, this year’s first-year professionals will again be considered as “rookies” in 2021, she has a chance to become the first-ever two-time “Rookie of the Year”.