Becky Kay is swinging for the fences
DESIGNED to save the blushes of any team facing utter humiliation, the mercy rule is the universal policy for sporting compassion.
The rule is likely familiar to anyone who has played team sport as a junior. But in individual sports, there is no such procedure offering innocent youngsters respite from a scoreboard horror show.
This was an unforgiving reality for Becky Kay's opponents on the golf course.
Knocking up double-digit leads in state schools competition over girls many years her senior, Kay was not in the business of showing any mercy on the way to filling her trophy cabinet.
Now Australia's number one ranked female amateur golfer, Kay, 19, is on the verge of turning pro.
Kay's journey to this point started at the Coolangatta and Tweed Heads Golf Club at the age of 10, where she would "tag along” to the driving range with her dad and older brother.
"I would come out here and just hang out with them - and I loved it,” Kay said.
What Kay really means by "hang out” was tee-up. She soon had her brother's measure on the course and, by age 13, started to beat her dad - no mercy.
She first represented Australia at the Youth Olympics at the same age, a level of achievement which has remained her benchmark.
"I think representing Australia is such an epic part of the sport,” Kay said.
Kay has represented Australia more-or-less twice a year since, with her play at the 2018 Amateur World Cup in August, where she outplayed her world amateur ranking (89th) to place sixth, a defining moment.
It was almost as good as her sixth-place finish at the Australian Ladies Masters in 2015, where she chipped in for an eagle on 18 to finish the low amateur.
"It's pretty good... yeah, it's pretty epic,” Kay responds, with a sense of gravity, when asked what it's like to be Australia's number one amateur. The year 2018 has been an annus mirabilis for Kay. On top of her World Cup brilliance, she won three tournaments in the three weeks on a hot streak including the eminent Riversdale Cup and the Queensland and Western Australian state championships.
So how isn't she a pro yet? Ask again at the end of 2019, and that may have changed - but golf is arguably the hardest sport in which to reach the peak stratum.
Next August, Kay will attend Q-School in America, a ruthless battle royale between the world's best amateurs, who will scrap tooth and nail for a pro tour card.
Kay competed at the 2018 Q-School in Japan this August, where she fell just two strokes short of progressing through.
"It was pretty tough,” said Kay, who travelled by herself throughout the country in chase of securing her golfing future.
"I went to the middle of nowhere, no one could speak English. It was a bit of a learning experience.”
But if Kay showed no quarter when she trounced her opponents and humbled her old man as a 13-year-old prodigy, she won't be asking for any mercy at the hands of one of the most cut-throat qualifying systems in world sport.
"I'm up for the challenge, it's my dream... I won't stop until I get there.”