Charlotte and Kate fly the English flag

Charlotte Heath
Yorkshire’s Charlotte Heath shot four-under par 68 to share the lead after the first round of the English U16 girls’ open championship at Blackmoor, Hampshire. 
She’s tied with Finland’s Kerttu Hiltunen, while girl internationals Annabell Fuller and Caitlin Whitehead are a stroke behind. 
 
Altogether, nine players beat par with impressive scoring on a dreary day punctuated by frequent showers. They included Thalia Kirby (Harleyford), Harriet Lynch (Thorndon Park) and Mimi Rhodes (Burnham & Berrow).
 
In the companion U14 championship, the lead is held on level par 72 by Ana Pina Ortega, while England’s Kate Bibby shares fourth place on 74.
 
Heath’s round was her personal best and included two eagles on par fives. “I was just steady, took my chances when they came and scrambled well when I had to,” said the 15-year-old from Huddersfield (pictured top). She trains with an England U16 regional squad and has already won the 2017 Pleasington Putter, a prestigious women’s scratch event. 
 
Hiltunen, 14, was joint runner-up in last year’s U14 championship and hopes to go one better in the U16s – and has brought good form with her, having won the Finnish U16 championship earlier this summer. 
 
Fuller, 15, (Roehampton) has arrived at this championship fresh from the European Young Masters where she was third overall and helped England win the team championship. 
 
She had five birdies in her round today but commented: “I didn’t hit it as well as I normally do, I’m going to go and sort that out, but I did have quite a lot of up and downs and saved a lot of shots by doing that.” 
 
Whitehead (Kendal, Cumbria) came in towards the end of the day with praise for the course. “If you hit it straight and down the middle you can score well. If you don’t it will penalise you, so it’s a fair course.” 
 
She did exactly that today staying out of the heather, holing out well and, along the way, collecting an eagle three on the seventh and back-to-back birdies to finish. 
 
In the U14 championship, Kate Bibby (pictured left) leads the way for England, two off the lead. 
 
The 13-year-old is Dubai-based and very well-travelled, having also lived in the USA, England and Canada. She took up golf when she was eight, encouraged by her father, whose interest in golf was sparked by his college friend, Matt Kuchar. 
 
Bibby loves the game and wants to make a career out of it. This summer she’s been testing her skills on the English amateur circuit and her results have included qualifying seventh in the English women’s match play and being knocked out only by the eventual champion. 
 
Today she had three bogeys and a birdie. “It was ok,” was her verdict. “I could have played better by not missing some silly putts.”
 
She’s chasing three girls: the leader Pina Ortega and two players on one-over, Andreina D’Angelo of Italy and Elodi Nuvoloni of France. 
 
Pina Ortega, 14, played in last year’s championship but missed the cut. Today her driver and putter were on good form and she described her round as “Incredible.”
 
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Images copyright Leaderboard Photography