Internationals Aileen Greenfield and Lulu Housman set the pace on a windy first day at the English senior women’s amateur championship at South Staffordshire Golf Club.
The conditions were testing, especially when combined with the slick greens, but the leaders fashioned impressive scores of two-over 75 as they set about the 36-hole process of qualifying for the match play stages.
“This is the sort of course where you have to think your way round,” said Greenfield, who was in England’s winning team at last year’s senior Home Internationals.
She did that in style, with two matching halves of one-over par – thanks in part to a sure touch on the greens. “The greens are very undulating and the downhill, downwind putts are very difficult,” added Greenfield, from Pyecombe in Sussex (Image © Leaderboard Photography).
She was followed in by Housman, whose score marked a return to championship form after a disappointing season last year when she missed out on a place in the England team.
She played for the national side in 2015, after winning the English senior stroke play title, and her aim this week is to amass precious order of merit points to help her return to the team.
Housman, from Wyke Green, Middlesex, has put in plenty of work with her coach and she remarked: “Today was a good start, but there’s a long way to go and I’ve got to keep my head screwed on!”
The leaders are being chased by Suffolk’s Fiona Edmond (Ipswich), a former England women’s international who is making her debut in senior ranks and is one shot off the lead.
Behind her is a group on five-over 78, made up of former champion Caroline Berry (Bromborough, Cheshire), Yorkshire’s Heather Staniforth (Hallamshire) and Devon’s Jo Shorrocks (Bigbury).
The local challenge is led by South Staffordshire’s own Annette Deeley on 79, while past champion Julie Brown (Trentham) shares 12th place on eight-over. She’s in a group which includes defending champion Cath Rawthore (Sale, Cheshire) and 2015 winner Helen Lowe (Scraptoft, Leicestershire).
Shorrocks was a member of an England Golf working party which came up with a new format for this year’s tournament. It increases the championship match play flight to 32 players and introduces a second flight for the top 16 players aged over 60. “I think it’s gone down very well,” she remarked of the changes.
The leading players in Flight Two – contesting the Ann Howard Trophy – are Carol Wild (Notts Ladies) and Jeannie O’Keeffe (Hankley Common, Surrey) who both shot 82 today.
O’Keeffe, who putted well to initially set the target, commented: “My days of playing in the top flight are past and I’m very, very happy to have Flight Two and it’s lovely playing against my peers. It’s exciting and there’s a strong field.”