Ashley leads U13 championship by five
Twelve-year-old Ashley Croft swept to a five-shot lead in the English U13 girls’ championship at Delamere Forest, Cheshire, thanks to a great back nine.
Ashley, from Stock Brook Manor in Essex, came home in one-under par to sign for a five-over 77. Her closest challenger is Chloe Frankish of Kent on 82 while defending champion Sammy Fuller of Surrey (Image © Leaderboard Photography) is a shot further back.
Ashley’s score was impressive on a course where the recent wet weather has made the rough punishingly thick. It was also a fine result after a slow start: the eight-handicapper was six over after five, but played the remaining holes in one-under par.
“It was tough at the beginning, but then I got used to it,” she said. “I had a triple bogey on the second but I took a deep breath, told myself to keep calm and tried to play safe.”
It was an attitude which served her well. She had a run of pars, before dropping a shot on the 10th, but immediately bounced back with a chip-and-putt birdie on the long 11th. She finished with a flourish on the 18th, another par five, where she was through the green in two, almost chipped in for an eagle, but secured a safe birdie. “I am extremely pleased,” said Ashley.
Chloe Frankish of Chart Hills also had a steady finish as she parred the last four holes for a total of 82.
Defending champion Sammy Fuller (Roehampton) was battling a cold as well as the tough conditions when she set off in a downpour among the early starters. “The course is really nice – but don’t go in the rough! If you miss a fairway you’re looking at eight and nines,” she said.
Sammy, who is also the Scottish U14 girls’ stroke play champion, said: “I’m not too happy with today, so I’m going to go home, think about what I’ve done and hopefully do better tomorrow.”
However, she did finish on a good note, holing a 12-footer on the last for a birdie four.
Among the other leading players is Lucy Walton who won the Worcestershire county championship earlier this year at the age of 12. She’s thought to be the youngest-ever county champion.
Leading first round scores
Par 72 SSS 74 CSS 74
77 Ashley Croft (Stock Brook Manor)
82 Chloe Frankish (Chart Hills)
83 Samantha Fuller (Roehampton)
84 Lucy Walton (Worcestershire), Megan Dennis (Woburn)
85 Hollie Muse (West Lancashire), Megan Clarke (Cleckheaton & District)
86 Jessica Hall (Bishop Auckland)
87 Jessica Bailey (Notts Ladies), Ana Dawson (Peel Ladies’)
Please click here for full scores
Visit leaderboardphotography.com to view championship images. A selection are shown in our image gallery