England U16 squad player Bel Wardle set a new amateur course record and claimed a runners-up place when she teed up for the first time against a field of women professionals.
Bel, 14, shot a one-under par 71 at Dunham Forest, Cheshire, in the first of this year’s events on the WPGA One Day Series.
Her score clipped a shot off the old record and left her in a three-way tie for second place and just one-stroke behind the winner, Claire Duffy of Test Valley, who used to play on the Ladies European Tour.
Bel, from Prestbury in Cheshire, trains with the England Golf U16 North West Squad. She was quick to grasp the opportunity when the WPGA opened up entry to this season’s one day events to U16 and U18 girls from the regional squads.
She was one of five squad players in the field and was joined in the top 10 by the new Durham ladies’ champion, Jessica Hall (Bishop Auckland), who tied for seventh place with a 74. Bel reached the turn at three-over par but came home in a sizzling four-under on the back nine.
Her performance underlines a great run of form. She teamed up with Emily McBurney, also 14, (Royal Liverpool) to win the Northern Ladies’ Foursomes when it was held last month at Ringway in Cheshire. Then, just over a week ago, she was runner-up in the Cheshire ladies’ championship. Along the way she’s cut her handicap this season from 4.7 to 2.5.
Her father, Paul Wardle, remarked: “Bel has definitely benefitted from being in the North West Squad and I think the hard work over the winter is paying off. She’s been very consistent this season.”
Rebecca Wood, the England Golf Women’s Performance Manager, commented: “I want to congratulate all five players for taking up the chance to tee it up with the professionals in this first event and it is fantastic to see two players finishing in the top ten.
“I have had enthusiastic comments back from players and I want to take the opportunity to thank the PGA again for providing this unique experience to the girls. Apart from the second event at Little Aston GC on Monday 19th May, there are spaces in the remaining events for regional U16 and U18 players to snap up and they should contact the Performance office for further details.”
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