Girl international Annabell Fuller made a fast start to her 2017 season when she finished runner-up in the Harder Hall Women’s Invitational on Florida’s Orange Blossom tour.
But afterwards the 14-year-old and her family had a wry smile about the result. Her father, Ashley, reports: “After coming second six times last year we had a little smile as we started again as runner up, although this felt more like a win.”
Fuller, from Roehampton in Surrey, enjoyed an excellent 2016, winning the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters, making her debut in the England girls’ team and grabbing all those second places, which included the runners-up spot in the Scottish U18, U16 and U14 championships.
She carried her form into the New Year and was in contention throughout the Harder Hall, finishing on three-over par for the 72 hole event. She was five behind the winner and a stroke ahead of third place. The Harder Hall provided a showcase for English talent with British stroke play champion Sophie Lamb (Clitheroe) finishing 10th while Georgia Price (Bude & North Cornwall) was 15th.
Fuller’s plan for the week was to attack the course and take advantage of her length. She went for all the par fives in two and also attacked the par four second hole, taking driver each day for a 220-yard carry over the swamp forest. The risky strategy paid off in the second round with a chip-in eagle two.
At the start of the final round Fuller was tied third and six shots behind the leader and her plan was more aggressive play to overwhelm her rivals. The plan was working as reached the first two par fives in two and birdied both holes, reducing the deficit to four shots.
But then, heavy rain set in and she had to halt the charge and focus on getting the ball round. “Annabell played great golf all week, the only negative being the putts didn’t drop which eventually cost her the tournament,” said Ashley. “As her father I was extremely proud how composed she was all week in different conditions with long rounds of five-hours plus, this is something she has really worked on.”
Fuller’s older sister, Sammy – a women’s international – had been due to play in the tournament but had to pull out after an emergency tonsil operation.
The Fuller sisters are members of the England girls’ squad while Lamb and Price are in the England women’s squad.