On a final day full of drama, Davina Xanh from Mendip Spring Golf Club emerged as the English Girls’ Amateur Stroke Play champion.
Xanh was thrilled to lift the trophy – but only after the third round was abandoned, the competition was reduced to 36 holes and she won a dramatic play-off against Abbi Rowlands.
The schedule for the final day at Sandy Lodge Golf Club in Hertfordshire was 36 holes of stroke play. The tournament had already been reduced from 72 holes to 54 after a day’s play was wiped out because of rain on Tuesday.
However, after Thursday’s morning round was completed the intervention of thunder and lightning and heavy rain made it impossible for all the competitors to finish the third and final round.
That meant the scores after 36 holes stood – with Xanh and Rowlands tied for top spot on level par.
A birdie at the first extra hole allowed Xanh to end a rollercoaster day of emotions on a high.
“We were a bit unsure of what was going to happen when we were all called back in,” admitted the champion.
“We didn’t think we were going to get to do a playoff to be honest, but the great greenkeepers here were able to get the course ready for us.
“I had an idea about what I was going to hit from the other rounds.
“There was a little bit of nerves standing over the putt – I was a bit shaky but I managed to calm myself and finish it off.”
Xanh headed into the second round this morning in second place, two shots behind leader Rowlands.
A one-over second round 73, matched by a three-over round of 75 from Rowlands meant the two leaders headed for the final round all-square.
Lunchtime brought threatening clouds and the event quickly turned into a race against the clock.
Xanh and Rowlands were back out for their third and final round of the week at 2.56pm.
The pressure and stakes rose as both players bogeyed the par-five first hole. Xanh was able to instantly bounce back with a birdie at the second and her round was back on track.
But at the point when the weather intervened neither Xanh, nor Rowlands were in pole position.
The arrival of rain and electrical activity proved to be particularly cruel on England girls’ squad player Lottie Woad.
The 16-year-old from Surrey had entered her final round four behind the leaders. An early flourish of birdies at one, three, four, five and six from Woad meant she was able to gain control of the leaderboard with a flawless front nine.
As the leaders entered the back nine at around 5pm, the heavens opened, the field were called in and play was suspended.
Woad held a two-shot lead over Xanh at this point and Rowland was six-over for the week after tallying six bogeys in her final round.
But with the weather taking control, the course flooded and daylight fading there was no other option available but to scrap the third round and revert back to the details after 36 holes.
To Woad’s great credit, she took the outcome with good grace and the spirit which indicates she will be a champion of the future.
The play-off was settled when Xanh’s tee shot landed 10 feet from the pin. Rowlands also hit the green but left herself with a 25 yard putt up the hill.
Despite a valiant effort from Rowlands, her effort rolled a foot wide and beyond the hole.
Xanh looked calm as she lined up her putt. With one swift stroke, her ball hit the middle of the hole and she was crowned champion.
“Today was a little bit nerve racking after the first round knowing that I was second,” said Xanh, “but it was an enjoyable round nonetheless!”
Xanh’s short-game ability was key all week. She had a level of intricacy around and on the green which helped her on the way to becoming champion.
“My putting has improved a lot since I last played, it’s a really important factor and it makes such a difference when you can putt well.
“It’s the biggest achievement of my career so far, I’m really happy to have won.”