Julie Brown is the new English senior women’s champion – completing a fairytale debut with a 2/1 win in the final over past winner Chris Quinn.
She arrived at Sandy Lodge Golf Club, near Watford, on a mission to win and to add another achievement to her already impressive record. And she didn’t put a foot wrong.
Julie, (image © Leaderboard Photography) from Trentham in Staffordshire, swept through the qualifying stages to become top seed. And, although she prefers stroke play to match play, she advanced speedily through the knockout stages, winning her rounds after 11, 13, 15 and 17 holes in turn.
“It’s fantastic, I’m over the moon, I’m so excited,” she said after she clinched the title. She’s no stranger to success, having been an England international and then a winner on the Ladies European Tour during a seven-year playing career in professional ranks. This latest win rates just as highly: “It feels exactly the same – and I felt exactly the same when I was playing. This week has felt just like starting again.”
Julie turned 50 on Boxing Day and set her sights on senior success. “I came here to win, I’m county junior organiser for Staffordshire and I told all the girls that I was going to come here and win. I’m thrilled I won’t have to live it down!”
The final produced an absorbing match, played in overcast conditions which steadily worsened into heavy rain, before drying up for the final hole or two.
The players halved the first two holes, with a spectacular save for Julie on the second hole. Her approach to the green hit the top of the sleepers on a massive bunker which runs across the hole and flew back down the fairway. Undaunted she played on to the green and holed the putt to match Chris Quinn’s more regulation par.
Julie edged ahead twice on the front nine, thanks to her mastery of the short holes, but she was pulled back both times and the players reached the turn all square. She produced a remarkable save on the short 10th where she missed the elevated green but managed a pitch and a long putt to halve the hole.
Then, as the weather worsened, Chris faltered on the greens, three-putting both the 11th and 13th to be 2 down. She cut the deficit to one with a conceded birdie on the long 14th, where Julie found a fairway bunker and then rough, but lost the 16th with another three putt.
With the title in her grasp, Julie made no mistakes and played the long 17th in text-book fashion to make certain of a par and the half.
Despite the result there were no regrets for Chris, who has won the title four times. “This is my seventh final and I’m thrilled to bits because the ‘young ones’ keep coming up,” she said.
The second flight final was won by Carole Weir of Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, who defeated Cheshire’s Caroline Berry (Bromborough) 3/2. The match was a re-run of the 2010 championship final – which Caroline won – and Carole was delighted to re-write the result.
She played the 16 holes of her final in level par and remarked: “It was nice to play well,” she said, paying tribute to her husband and caddy, Melvin. “He sorted me out! He told me I was taking too long over the shot and to stand there and whack it – and to keep still on the putts.”
Carole retired last year as a Buckinghamshire county player. She was previously the Middlesex champion.