England’s Annabell Fuller shot seven-under par on the back nine of the Hotchkin course at Woodhall Spa as she played her way to a share of the lead in the English women’s stroke play championship.
She’s tied with Ireland’s Jessica Ross on four-under 69, but they reached the same total in very different ways.
Fuller (pictured) was four over after four holes, complaining that she couldn’t hit the ball, and she was still three-over at the turn. But on the back nine the 15-year-old came home superbly in seven-under 30, finishing off with an eagle three on the last.
“When I started I couldn’t hit the ball, I’ve never hit it so badly,” said Fuller, from Roehampton, Surrey. “I thought if I could get round below 80 I'd be happy,” she said.
Then matters began to look up for the English U16 girls’ champion. She parred the short fifth and birdied the long sixth, but promptly missed the fairway on seven. “I thought here we go again, but I started to play really well, steady and straight.
“I hit a couple of nice pitches and holed the putts and then I was back to level after 14.” From then on there was no stopping her. She had another birdie on 15, yet another on 17 where she holed a 30-footer – her only long putt of the round – and finally rammed home a 10ft putt on the 18th for eagle.
Ross, meanwhile, got off to a quick start and was three under after six, helped by super-accurate hitting which gave her putts of just 1ft on the 2nd and 5th.
Like Fuller, the 22-year-old finished with a flourish, holing from 25ft on 17 for birdie and getting up and down for a final-hole birdie on the 18th.
Ross is enjoying a consistent season but declares: “This is my first four-under round of the season so I’m happy with that.”
The leaders are being chased by Dulcie Sverdloff (Thorpe Hall, Essex), who is a stroke behind on 70.Her round included an eagle-birdie sequence on six and seven, before a lull in the middle where she had three bogeys in four holes, but she bounced back with birdies on 13 and 14.
Sverdloff has just graduated from university in the USA and is preparing to go to Tour school in December. “I’ve got this and the British stroke play, they’re my last two amateur events and I’m just trying to enjoy them because then it will get serious,” she said.
A shot further back on two-under 71 is Gloucestershire’s Caley McGinty whose card featured one eagle, one birdie, one bogey and 15 pars. “It was really weird,” said the 16-year-old from Knowle.
This was McGinty’s first outing on the course after she arrived in Woodhall Spa feeling unwell and opted out of practice yesterday in favour of a course walk.
Among the other players under par are Paula Grant, the Irish women’s champion who was also top qualifier at the British women’s amateur. She’s in a group on one-under with Rebecca Earl (Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire), who started her round with a chip-in birdie.
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