It was youth to the fore today at English Women’s County Finals as 11-year-old Rosie Bee Kim helped Buckinghamshire to a win – and to blow the championship wide open.
As increasingly strong winds whipped across the links at Royal North Devon Golf Club, both Surrey and Staffordshire also won their matches.
It means that today’s three winners catch Gloucestershire at the top of the table, although the South West team still hold a narrow advantage of games won.
Buckinghamshire were first to strike with their 4-2 win over Yorkshire, with Kim (pictured) scoring the winning point on her county debut.
She stands just under 5ft tall and with the winds strengthening, Kim commented: “I didn’t expect very much from today. I’m quite young and I have a disadvantage that I don’t hit the ball very far and I knew it would be windy.”
However, she’s also an extremely steady player who is rapidly improving and she quickly took a narrow lead and held on to win 3/1. “I was very pleased,” said the youngster, whose ambition is to become a Tour player.
She’s one of a number of young, developing players in the Buckinghamshire team and they’ve all played their part this week. Team captain Sue Ashworth remarked: “Like a lot of the counties we have our girls from the American universities to call on at regional match week. But now they’ve all gone back we have to call on our younger players and their handicaps have tumbled in the summer and we’d be foolish not to use them. It works for us.”
Next to score was Surrey, who beat Norfolk 3.5-2.5, securing their win in their last game and on the final green. Surrey’s Charlotte Griffith and Norfolk’s Chloe Gibbs came down the 18th all square and halved the hole – dashing Norfolk’s hopes of a halved match and getting a point on the board.
It was a nail biter for Surrey captain Sally Parrish who commented: “We had three wins, so we knew we had a draw at least, but we really wanted to win the day. I’m really grateful to Charlotte because she hurt her wrist in one of the bunkers on the 6th. We dosed her up and bandaged her up, but I thought she was going to have to stop – but she battled through.”
The final match was played in the worst of the weather, with players finding it difficult to stand at times and balls toppling off tees. But, although balls oscillated on the greens, they didn’t move and play was able to continue.
Staffordshire came out on top, winning 4-2 and halting the progress of Gloucestershire, who had won both their opening matches.
“What a day, it was a fantastic result,” said Staffordshire’s playing captain, Jenny Rhodes, who teamed up with Rachel Bishop in a winning foursomes combination.
“It was hard work out there, it was just a case of keep persevering and grinding away. It was a test of endurance, just standing up on some holes was an achievement! Our match probably had the worst of the weather but it was definitely good to get a proper, finished result.”
Staffordshire won the first three points, but had to wait for Georgina Wilkie to take them over the winning line with her 3/2 singles win.
Today’s matches were played over two foursomes and four singles.
Tomorrow’s draw is: Norfolk v Gloucestershire, Staffordshire v Buckinghamshire, Surrey v Yorkshire.