The winds blew at gale force – but nothing could stop Bel Wardle as she swept to a seven-shot win in the English girls’ championship at Littlestone, Kent.
The brutal weather made it tough to take a stance, let alone hit a ball, but the 17-year-old international shot one-under 72 in the third round – and became the champion when the fourth round was abandoned because of the conditions.
She was seven-under par for 54 holes, while runner-up Martha Lewis (St George’s Hill, Surrey) finished on level par. Third place, on three over, was taken by Megan Dennis (Woburn, Buckinghamshire) and Annabell Fuller (Roehampton, Surrey) was a further shot back.
The win is huge for Wardle, from Prestbury in Cheshire, who said: “Last year I led after two rounds and kind of blew it in the third round. I went out there today so determined not to let that happen again. I didn’t want that that sinking feeling again.
“I knew I could compete, but this was about getting over the line with my first win and it does so much for my confidence. It shows me I can do it, I really can do it.”
Wardle’s plan was to get off a quick start – and she couldn’t have been speedier. She drove the first green and holed the 3ft putt for an eagle, then birdied the next two holes to get to 10-under for the championship. She parred her way to the turn and then began the very difficult inward half.
“It was so tough coming in. On the 10th I started wondering how I could get the club back in the wind and we were only just making the fairway. When you were over the ball it was a matter of take whatever stance you could and give it a go.
“I just kept things simple, I didn’t go pin-hunting I just tried to hit greens and control shots into the green.”
Now Wardle is off to play for England in the girls’ Home Internationals at Little Aston, Staffordshire, which start on Wednesday. After that it’s the British girls’ championship, where she was runner-up last year.