Wildcard Kobie Enright was all smiles as she walked up the long flight of stairs after her Round 2 heat this evening against Sally Fitzgibbons. She had just edged out Fitzgibbons, a longtime Championship Tour (CT) veteran, by a mere 0.26 after their Round 2 battle at the Rip Curl Women's Pro Bells Beach.
Up until Saturday, Fitzgibbons, the current World No. 3, has finished 5th or better at Bells every year of her nine-year career on Tour.
Enright, who wasn't aware of her opponent's track record here, maintained her composure throughout their heat. "I was just going out there to surf with one other person out and hoping for the best," she said. "There's definitely some pressure here. I was in the trials for this event four times before this, so I've gotten used to it."
The 18-year-old has already won two WSL Qualifying Series (QS) events this year, the Carve Pro and Flight Centre Burleigh Pro. She just graduated high school, and 2018 is her first year surfing on the QS full-time. And she isn't treading lightly on her new turf. Despite it being late in the day, Enright's win brought some energy back to the crowd -- with her family and friends cheering loudly from the sidelines.
"I was using the jet-ski assist to start but then there were a couple inside waves coming through and I knew I was going to need another score," Enright said after her win. "If I was out the back I was going to be next to Sally and that wasn't ideal. I was paddling back out and hoping another one would come through but then it went flat, which is good. I have no idea what to expect next. I'm just going to go out there and surf. Can't wait."
This isn't the first time that Fitzgibbons has been edged out by a wildcard. Last year, at the Maui Women's Pro, she lost to Brisa Hennessy when the waves went flat during the sudden-death round. The loss also cost Fitzgibbons her World Title campaign. As the defending event champion at the next CT event, the Margaret River Pro, the Australian will surely be looking for redemption.