England international Lily May Humphreys underlined her sparkling form when she led the qualifiers for the match play at the English Women’s Amateur Championship at Saunton, Devon.
The 17-year-old – who has already won the Welsh and Irish stroke play titles this month – was two under par after 36 holes on the West course.
Her two rounds of 71 put her six shots ahead of fellow internationals, Nicola Slater from Yorkshire and Emily Toy from Cornwall – and made her top seed for the first time in her career.
Humphreys, a Curtis Cup player from Stoke by Nayland in Essex, makes no secret of her desire to follow through and win this championship for the second time.
She took the title in 2017, when it was a stroke play event, and said: “I would really like to win it again, especially with the form I’m in – and it would be nice to win in the different format.”
She’s got much respect for the course, commenting: “It’s short, but it’s playing hard, the greens are firm and there are some tricky pin positions. You have to keep the ball on the fairways and on the greens, if you don’t there’s a lot of thick rough.”
Humphreys was one of only three players to beat par today, with Caley McGinty of Gloucestershire and Thalia Kirby of Buckinghamshire both returning one-under 71 and qualifying on five-over par.
It proved a popular score, with a total of six players on that mark. The others were defending champion Georgina Blackman of Essex, who was level par today; Fairhaven Trophies winner Rosie Belsham of Northumberland; international Bel Wardle of Cheshire; and Cornwall county champion Megan Giles.
The leading 32 players and ties qualified for the match play, with the cut falling on 14-over par and a total of 33 players making it through. A preliminary round will be played tomorrow between Ebonie Lewis of Gloucestershire and Emily Brennan of Staffordshire to determine who takes 32nd place in the main draw.
The championship was played over 72-holes of stroke play for the past seven years, before reverting to match play. The last time it was played as a knock-out Charley Hull lost in the final to Lucy Williams.
Caption: Lily May Humphreys (image copyright Leaderboard Photography)