Si­mone Wil­liams

Inside Golf - - Women In Golf - DavidNew­bery

FIF­TEEN years ago, Si­mone Wil­liams’ life changed for­ever. “Si­mone Who?” you may ask. In the mid-1990s, Si­mone Wil­liams was Aus­tralia’s top-ranked fe­male ama­teur golfer.

She at­tended the Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Sport in Mel­bourne and was a pro­lific win­ner, tak­ing out the Aus­tralian and Queens­land School­girls’ Cham­pi­onships and the Aus­tralian, Queens­land and NSW ju­nior cham­pi­onships.

The Queens­lan­der, who played out of the Red­cliffe Golf Club in Bris­bane, also cap­tured the NSW, Vic­to­rian, West Aus­tralian and South Aus­tralian stroke­play cham­pi­onships.

In 1994, Wil­liams rep­re­sented Aus­tralia in the World Cup in France along with Karrie Webb and South Aus­tralian Anne-Marie Knight.

Laurie Mon­tague, who was the na­tional women’s coach, said at that time Wil­liams “had the world at her feet”.

We all know Webb took the pro­fes­sional golf world by storm reach­ing world No. 1, win­ning seven ma­jors and bank­ing mil­lions of dol­lars.

Knight also turned pro­fes­sional and plied her trade with some suc­cess on the Ladies Euro­pean Tour.

But what­ever hap­pened to Wil­liams – the cham­pion golfer who, at 19, was primed to turn pro­fes­sional?

Well, she’s alive and well and liv­ing in Mel­bourne with her hus­band and two-and-ahalf-year-old son Bai­ley.

She never did turn pro­fes­sional be­cause in 1996 she had a se­ri­ous car ac­ci­dent that left her with an in­jury that dented her hopes of join­ing the play-for-pay ranks.

“I was mov­ing back to Queens­land from Mel­bourne when I had the car ac­ci­dent,” the 35-year-old ex­plained.

“About five kilo­me­tres north of Moree I got to a cor­ner, hit some gravel and rolled the car five times.

“I had a few scratches and cut my head open, but I was pretty lucky to get away with it and didn’t think there was any­thing wrong.” But there was. Coach Ian Triggs iden­ti­fied a prob­lem with her swing and sent her to a phys­io­ther­a­pist, who found that her shoul­der was out of its socket.

With her shoul­der back in place, Wil­liams, who played off a +2 hand­i­cap be­fore the ac­ci­dent, worked tire­lessly on her swing and re­turned to the na­tional squad.

But the dam­age was done – phys­i­cally and men­tally – and she quit the game.

“Af­ter the ac­ci­dent I never re­ally played well again,” she said.

“I tried and tried and de­cided if I couldn’t play at the level I knew I was ca­pa­ble of I thought I’d rather quit.

“When you are used to play­ing at a level and then strug­gle to break 90 it’s frus­trat­ing and up­set­ting.”

There are those who find it dif­fi­cult, if not im­pos­si­ble, to be­lieve that some­one who was the best ama­teur in the coun­try could be con­tent walk­ing away from the game.

“I am happy now be­cause I love be­ing a mum and I still work part-time in fi­nance,” she said.

One of Wil­liams’ ca­reer high­lights was play­ing along­side for­mer world No.1 An­nika Soren­stam at the Aus­tralian Ladies Mas­ters.

“It was great to watch how An­nika went about her busi­ness,” she says.

“She made it look so easy, hit­ting fair­ways and greens and mak­ing birdies. She was so cool, calm and col­lected and went on to win the tour­na­ment.

“I was re­ally ner­vous and shot a cou­ple over, but it was good ex­pe­ri­ence and it was then that I re­alised I wanted to be a pro­fes­sional golfer.”

Un­for­tu­nately, Wil­liams didn’t get to ful­fill her dream, but she’s not com­plain­ing.

“I think things hap­pen for a rea­son – maybe turn­ing pro wasn’t what I was meant to do,” she said.

“Some­times, af­ter I have had a so­cial game and hit a great shot, I think ‘what if ?’.

“I feel I should get back into it, but then again I hit plenty of other very or­di­nary shots.

“And be­sides, I just don’t have the time to ded­i­cate to golf any­more.”

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