Just champion! Eager Ellen keen to hang onto crown

Ellen Hume has loved every minute of her year as English Women’s Amateur Champion – and isn’t about to give up her crown without a fight.

The Hertfordshire golfer earned the biggest win of her career last year at Saunton Golf Club in Devon with a dramatic play-off victory against Curtis Cup player Lily May Humphreys.

In the course of a tough week, the 20-year-old also defeated defending champion Georgina Blackman and Women’s British Amateur champion Emily Toy in the match play before taking the scalp of 2017 winner Humphreys in the week’s thrilling finale.

No-one who witnessed Hume’s play could argue that the Mill Green Golf Club member had not worked hard to pull off the victory.

Now Hume is back to defend the title at Woodhall Spa Golf Club in what will be a celebration of all that’s good about the men’s and women’s amateur game.

For the first time ever the English Men’s and Women’s Amateur Championships will be staged simultaneously at the same venue.

And after developing a growing belief in herself following last year’s triumph, Hume is eager to get back into the thick of the action again.

“I’m excited as I know what it takes to win,” she admitted.

“You need to play well day in, day out.

“There is maybe a little more pressure this year in that the match play is reduced to 16 players so you will have to play really well in the stroke play to advance.

“But it’s a great event and special to win. It would be really amazing to successfully defend it.

“Last year’s final was a was a great match between me and Lily and went all the way to the extra hole.

“That just shows you how competitive it was.

“It’s great that we can play in this event again despite what has happened with the coronavirus pandemic.”

Hume may have been an underdog going into last year’s championship, but this year her presence will command instant respect.

Following her 2019 success, Hume developed a strong belief in her game.

That showed in her results on return to college in America where she is interested in athletic training and the biomechanics of sport as a back-up plan to a career to professional golf.

She added: “It’s been enjoyable being the champion and gave me a real boost for the college season.

“Off the back of the English, I won the Faldo Series in Birmingham and then got an England call-up for the Home Internationals and that was a great experience.

“Then I jetted back to America for a full season and won my first collegiate event at the end of the Fall season.

“I also had good finishes in the spring. I was sixth out of 264 competitors – the largest field in college golf which was pretty cool.

“Now I’m looking forward to transferring from college in South Carolina to the University of Mississippi.

“The weather is great, but it’s also a much bigger program and there are amazing facilities which I’m looking to use to my advantage.”

Oddly enough, Hume is something of a novice when it comes to the Hotchkin and Bracken courses at Woodhall Spa.

Prior to a recce visit a few weeks ago, Hume had not played either course, but is excited by the different challenges posed by the two tracks.

“They provide very different tests,” confirmed Hume.

“After playing both I prefer the Hotchkin as it’s a bit more open. It will be a great venue to host the amateur.

“The Bracken is a lot tighter and you need to be accurate off the tee. The fairways are slopey and the greens are very big and slopey and that will test a lot of players with their putting.

“I’m excited for the week – I’ve played well since lockdown and won Faldo Series event in my first competition back.

“It will now be a real buzz to now try and defend my title.”

Hume and her fellow competitors will play 18 holes stroke play on each of the first two days with rounds on both the Hotchkin and Bracken courses. The leading 16 players will then progress to the match play.

The top players will be seeded according to their stroke play finishing place with the remaining players drawn at random.

The week builds to a climax with the 36-hole final on Saturday.