Past winner Caroline Berry steered a skillful course around South Staffordshire Golf Club to lead the qualifiers for the match play stages of the English senior women’s championship.
She pipped Lulu Housman to the top spot on countback, thanks to her second round of three-over 76. Meanwhile Jackie Foster, the English senior stroke play champion, shot the low score of the qualifying rounds with one under-par 72, to become third seed.
They head the 32 qualifiers for the championship knockout, while another 16 players aged over 60, go forward to Flight Two.
Berry, the 2010 champion (pictured top), is carrying on the fine form she demonstrated in last week’s French senior international open, where she was second amateur and fourth overall.
“It was very good practice for here because the greens were very, very quick and undulating, like these,” said Berry, from Bromborough, Cheshire. She negotiated them well, even holing a tricky downhill putt for a birdie on 17. “The 17thand the fourth were my friends – I birdied them both in both rounds!”
Housman was supported by her identical twin, Georgie, (pictured bottom) as she added 79 to her opening 75 and appreciated her intuitive caddying. “She makes the right remarks at the right moments,” she said.
Nevertheless Housman (Wyke Green, Middlesex) found it tougher today, finding herself out of position on occasion and watching putts slip by. “I would have liked better today but I’m really happy with two scores in the 70s.”
Foster (Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire) reversed her fortunes of yesterday when she came home in two-under par. In the first round she was two over par after 12 holes and appeared to be cruising in, only to drop eight shots over the last six holes. “I’m just relieved,” she said after posting today’s score.
The leading qualifiers also include Staffordshire’s Julie Brown (Trentham) who won this title in 2014. She shot one-over 74 today, improving on her first day by seven shots. “I wasn’t very happy yesterday, I just struggled and was out of sync, but I played much better today.”
Overnight co-leader Aileen Greenfield joins her on 155, one shot ahead of playing partner Fiona Edmond, pictured right, (Ipswich, Suffolk). The pair last saw each other over 25 years ago in keenly contested county games.
Back then Edmond was an England international who had made headlines as the first woman to play in the Cambridge University team. But injury and ME – which left her bedbound for six months and housebound for three years – put paid to her golf.
After her recovery her energies were spent on her six children and her garden design business and she returned to golf only a few years ago when one of her sons asked her to play. She loved it, immediately applied to join the club and six weeks later shot a course record 67.
This is her first big championship in many years and she said: “I’m loving it, I think I’m really lucky to be able to play again and to come here and meet up with old friends.”
South Staffordshire’s own Annette Deeley qualified comfortably in seventh place.
The championship has a new format this season, with 32 qualifying places in the first flight knock out and 16 place for the top players aged over 60 in flight two, who play for the Ann Howard Trophy.
Ann, from Lancashire, was present for the first two rounds, watching her daughter Debbie Finch, compete for the first time. “I’ve really enjoyed it,” said Debbie and I can’t wait to be older and play in mum’s trophy.”
The top qualifier for the Ann Howard Trophy is Cathy Armstrong (Ellesborough, Buckinghamshire), who finished ahead of Alison Hansen (Alnmouth, Northumberland) on countback.