Bel defies Ôawful’ weather to lead girls’ championship

Bel Wardle
Girl international Bel Wardle defied appalling conditions to take the halfway lead on six-under par in the English girls’ championship at Littlestone, Kent. 
She was round in two-under 71 today, remarking afterwards: “It has been awful, just awful. The wind has been so strong and the rain has just been lashing down on the back nine.” 
 
Wardle (Prestbury, Cheshire) negotiated the front nine in two-under but faced a real challenge coming home. “When I went into the back nine I knew I needed to hang on. I was either playing into the wind or cross winds, I don’t think there was a downwind hole, it was just playing long. 
 
“It was percentage golf. If I got out of position it was a case of don’t try anything stupid, just go for the middle of the green and knock in a few putts here and there.” The approach worked for she managed to complete the inward half in level par, remarking: “I was pleased with my back nine.” 
 
Tomorrow the forecast is for winds strengthening to 40mph but Wardle said: “I don’t really look at weather forecasts, I’m just going to turn up and see what I can do.” 
 
She’s two shots ahead of fellow international Amelia Williamson (Royal Cromer, Norfolk) who was round in level par today. A further stroke back, on three-under, is Martha Lewis (St George’s Hill, Surrey) who was one-over today. 
 
“It was really rough out there,” said Lewis. But she gave herself a great start, chipping in for an eagle on the second and then holing a 10ft putt for birdie on the third. She got to the turn in two-under before battling home: “It was good to hang in there in the weather,” she said. 
 
There’s a host of players in contention at the halfway stage, including Megan Dennis (Woburn, Buckinghamshire) and Caley McGinty (Knowle, Gloucestershire) on two-under. Overnight leader Annabell Fuller (Roehampton, Surrey) is one-under, alongside 
Nicola Slater (Woodsome Hall, Yorkshire) who equalled the low score of the day with her two-under 71. 
“I just stuck at it,” said Slater, who has just won the North region ladies’ title. She’s not a great fan of links golf but enjoys adapting to the challenge and said: “I think the weather distracted me, I didn’t focus too much on the score, I just played it as it came.” 
 
At the end of today’s play the field was cut to the leading 40 players and ties who go forward to tomorrow’s final 36 holes. A total of 42 players qualified. 
 
Caption: Laughing in the rain: Bel Warde (right) with playing partners Amelia Williamson (left) and Lily May Humphreys (image copyright Leaderboard Photography).
 
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