Jill Thornhill has proved golf truly is a sport for all ages – after the 78-year-old former English Women’s Amateur Champion shot her age to win a club competition 57 years after she first triumphed in the event!
The former Curtis Cup player won the Ladies Autumn Gold Medal over the demanding Old Course at Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey.
Her one-shot victory was remarkable not only for the winning score – but because it highlighted the longevity of her career and the compelling, competitive nature of the game regardless of age.
Jill – winner of her national title in 1986 at Prince’s Golf Club in Kent – said: “It had been a goal of mine for a couple of years now to break or equal my age and I’ve been close to achieving it. However, each time I managed to get ahead of myself.
“Coming to the last few holes I knew I was in touching distance and tried to draw on what I did well in my younger day.
“It’s the oldest cliché, but one shot at a time is the best strategy and I knew a five at the last would help me shoot my age.
“I am finding the attention quite amazing.
“In my heyday, if your achievements didn’t get into the press, it didn’t appear anywhere. Now, with social media, everyone seems to know about my 78.”
Jill first won that same event in 1963 as a 21-year-old and went on to enjoy an amazing amateur career.
She won her county title 15 times, represent her country, both played in and then skippered the GB&I Curtis Cup side and became captain and then honorary member of Walton Heath.
“Some of my friends have said that when I am 79, I only have to shoot 78,” she added with a smile after having her handicap cut from six to five.
“However, the other side of the argument is that I’ll be another year older, so it might be harder. I will certainly keep trying.”
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