English U14/U16 Girls – Day one: Tight at the top

Rosie Bee Kim holds a narrow advantage going into day two of the English Girls’ Under 16 Open Championship at Formby Ladies’ Golf Club as she seeks to claim another national title.

Last year, the Buckinghamshire golfer took the honours in the under 14 category, but this year the England girls’ squad member has made the step up and is competing in the older age bracket as she looks to emulate Georgia Hall and Lily May Humphreys by winning back-to-back titles in both categories.

Kim – part of an 80-strong under 16 field – takes a one-shot lead into tomorrow’s second round after she fired an impressive four under par round of 67 which included five birdies.

In the under 14 section of the event, featuring 49 golfers, Walton Heath’s Annabel Peaford is the early pacesetter following a level par round of 71.

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Herry Ji from Burhill (pictured below) and Dutch golfer Lynn van der Sluijs remain in hot pursuit of Kim after they both signed for a three under par score of 68 to tie for second.

Ji was particularly pleased with her opening round and produced one of the shots of the day to sink a putt for an eagle on the 10th hole.

She said: “I’m quite happy. I felt like I was holing quite a few putts, sticking to fairways and hitting the greens.

“On ten, I eagled and from then it was a good round. It gave me a lot of confidence and I also holed a 25-footer, so I knew my putting was good today.”

After her confidence boosting eagle, Ji continued to perform well with the putter. A birdie immediately followed, before she finished with consecutive birdies on the 17th and 18th to post a 68 total around the challenging links’ course.

As with a lot of links’ courses, wind usually plays its part and on Merseyside today, it was no different.

The clouds soon cleared, and the sun appeared, but the wind remained strong throughout the day, presenting the golfers with a stern test.

“At the start, it was quite windy, so just being able to hit the greens was good,” Ji added.

“I had to take a few extra clubs to the greens and had to change the aim of some shots.

“The wind then picked up a little during my round, so it was harder to judge the distances, but I think I managed it pretty well.”

Four other players also juggled the conditions to keep within touching distance of the leaders.

Imogen Williamson, Nellie Ong, Amy Knotts and Matilde Santilli all posted two under par rounds of 69 to sit just two shots behind Kim, whilst Alayna Rafique and Isabella Taylor-Stokes are a further shot back on one under par.

In total, nine players posted under par rounds, all of whom remain in contention heading into day two of the under 16 category.

Meanwhile, the competition in the under 14 section is just as fierce, with just three shots separating the top six.

Peaford (pictured below) went out early and set the benchmark for the rest to follow. Charlotte Naughton and Millie Marsh came closest to knocking the Walton Health golfer off her perch, but fell just short following one over par rounds of 72.

Norwood Park’s Elizabeth Wilson and Eden’s Rebecca Wildley are tied fourth on two over par, whilst Maisie Whittall of Gaudet Luce rounds out the top six on three over par.

With the scores close at the sharp end of both categories, the second day of competition is set to a thriller, as the top 40% battle it out to make the cut which will be made at the end of play tomorrow.