England women in strong challenge at St Rule Trophy

Bethan Popel Hollie Muse Aditi Ashok St Rule

England women internationals, led by Bethan Popel, filled three of the top five places in the St Rule Trophy at St Andrews – and came within a whisker of winning the Nations Cup.

They couldn’t catch the winner, 17-year-old Aditi Ashok, from Bangalore, India, who shot 10-under for the 54-hole event on the New and Old courses. But Popel (Long Ashton) was runner-up, Hollie Muse (West Lancashire) was third and India Clyburn (Woodhall Spa) tied fourth.

In addition, Sammie Giles (St Mellion) also beat par to tie sixth and the England team of Clyburn, Muse and Gemma Clews (Delamere Forest) tied for the Nations Cup. However, Scotland pipped them to the title on countback, with the better last-round aggregate: 153 to 154.

Ashok led from start to finish, building the platform for a notable win by equalling the New Course women's amateur record of eight-under-par 67 in her first round on Saturday. She went three shots clear of the field with a second-round 71, also over the New, to be 12-under-par coming into the final round over the Old Course.

The final day brought mixed weather, heavy overnight rain lingering on well into the morning, to be replaced by sunshine and a wind that touched the 40mph mark in mid-afternoon.

Popel snapped at the winner's heels until she bogeyed the 16th and took a double bogey at the Road Hole 17th where she was in the greenside bunker in two. However, she finished one shot ahead of Muse who won the Scottish U16 title at Strathmore in April.

Muse had a tough start to the final round, hitting her approach shot out of bounds at the first hole, en route to a double bogey, and she took three-over par 41 to reach the turn.

But she battled on, and salvaged a very respectable two-over 78 in the high wind to finish third. She was also runner-up to Ashok in the Under-18s' Lawson Trophy.

Leading final scores

St Andrews
Par 226 (New Course 2 x 75, Old Course 1 x 76)
CSS: New Course 76 75; Old Course 76

216 A Ashok (India) 67 71 78
221 B Popel (Long Ashton) 69 72 80
222 H Muse (West Lancashire) 74 70 78
223 I Clyburn (Woodhall Spa) 75 72 76, C De Corte (Belgium) 74 73 76
225 S McWilliam (Aboyne) 70 78 77, S Giles (St Mellion) 74 73 78

Caption (from left): Bethan Popel, Hollie Muse and winner Aditi Ashok on Swilken Bridge at Old Course, with the grandstands for The Open in the background. (Image © Cal Carson Golf Agency)