Cheshire’s Cath Rawthore won a ‘nip and tuck’ battle to become the new English senior women’s stroke play champion at Knaresborough in Yorkshire.
The Sale player finished the 54-hole event one stroke ahead of playing partner Amanda Mayne of Somerset and said: “I am just thrilled.
“It’s my mum’s birthday today and I told her I’d call this evening and that I might have a special birthday present for her. But I really didn’t dream I would do it!”
Cath (image © Leaderboard Photography) actually stacked the odds against herself when she was preparing to play and snapped her hand with the elastic strap on her trolley, badly bruising a finger. But, in a classic case of ‘beware the injured golfer’ she went out to win.
“It’s really bruised and it’s quite uncomfortable to grip. But I took a couple of paracetamol and then the adrenalin clicked in.”
Cath shot two over 77 in the final round and finished on three-over par for the championship. Amanda, who at one point trailed by four shots, narrowed the final gap to one, returning a score of 78.
Three shots further back in joint third place were Caroline Berry of Cheshire – who shot the low score of the day with a one-under 74 – and Norfolk’s Jo Ashmore. New senior Tracy Bazell of Dorset was fifth and Surrey’s Debbie Richards took sixth place.
Trophies were won by Sue Westall (Copt Heath) for the best score by a played aged over 65; by Carole Weir (Beaconsfield) for the best net score; and by Cheshire – represented by Caroline Berry and Cath Rawthore – for the best county team score.
Cath Rawthore and Amanda Mayne started the third round as joint leaders, having both scored one-over for the previous 36 holes. Their final 18 holes took on the feel of matchplay and their dominance of the event was interrupted only once, when Jo Ashmore briefly overhauled Amanda after 11 holes.
The drama of the final round began immediately, when Amanda took a triple bogey on the first, after tangling with trees. She quickly came straight back into the reckoning with birdies on the second and third holes, but Cath never relinquished the lead and, having reached the turn in level par, had a cushion of three shots.
She extended her lead to four after Amanda three-putted the 11th. But, once again the Somerset player fought back: she birdied the 13th after hitting her approach to about 2ft; claimed another shot back when Cath under-clubbed into the 14th on the way to a bogey; and birdied the tricky 15th to narrow the gap to just one shot.
Cath, who repeatedly demonstrated a devastating short game, chipped dead on the par four 16th for a par and again moved two clear. But her lead was once more narrowed to one shot when Amanda birdied the long 17th, having knocked her approach to within 3ft of the pin. Both players bogeyed the 18th – and the title belonged to Cath.
“It was a fantastic match, it felt just like a match and it was real nip and tuck, it was absolutely brilliant,” said Cath. “The whole week has been absolutely lovely and the club members have all been so warm and chatty.”
She added: “My game felt good from the word go this week and that has stayed with me. You get the odd bad holes but I’ve had a steady week. Today, when I got ahead at the start it helped to relax me but Amanda is such an amazing player – and she goes straight back at you.”
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