Lily May marches into semi-finals

International Lily May Humphreys continued her quest for her third title in three weeks when she played her way into the semi-finals of the English Women’s Amateur at Saunton, Devon.

Humphreys (pictured), who has already won Welsh and Irish stroke play titles this month, will play Northumberland’s Jess Baker tomorrow morning.

The other semi-final is between Hertfordshire’s Ellen Hume and Staffordshire’s Emily Brennan, who has forged ahead after squeezing into the championship match play via a preliminary round.

Humphreys, from Stoke by Nayland, Essex, was first to claim her place in the semis, with a 4/3 win over England team-mate Bel Wardle (Prestbury, Cheshire), having earlier beaten Hertfordshire’s Rebecca Earl.

The quarter-final clash against Wardle was a game many would have fancied as a final, bringing together the two highest ranked players in the field, with Humphreys currently 31st in the world, while Wardle is 37th.

They played brisk, good quality golf, with Humphreys always ahead and holding tight to her advantage when necessary; for example on the 10th where she holed out from 20ft for a half and rewarded herself with a first pump.

“This was a big match and I knew it would be tough. It’s good to beat Bel, she’s a very good player, very solid and she doesn’t usually give anything away, you have to take it for yourself,” said Humphreys, who played the 14 holes in level par.

“I haven’t shot over par this week, which is good round here,” added the 17-year-old, who previously won this championship in 2019.

Now she faces 16-year-old Jess Baker from Gosforth Park Ladies in Northumberland. She beat Gloucestershire’s Caley McGinty this morning and followed up by beating Lincolnshire’s Billie-Jo Smith 2/1.

Baker went ahead this afternoon with a birdie on the third and stayed in front with sub-par golf in a close match. Smith had a putt to take the game to the 18th but was denied when the ball looked in the hole then rimmed out again.

“We had a great match and it could have gone either way,” said Baker, who is enjoying herself hugely. “This course is really tough and to be part of this and in contention is a massive thing.”

Ellen Hume (Mill Green) put herself in the spotlight yesterday when she beat the defending champion and she continued in the same vein today. She defeated Thalia Martin (Peterborough Milton) this morning and followed up with a 3/2 win over England international Emily Toy (Carlyon Bay).

This afternoon Hume had to wait until the 12th before she finally got ahead in the game. But once there, she stayed there. “I birdied the 12th which gave me a bit of momentum and also won the 13th,” said Hume. “Emily won the 14th with a good par but then I made two pars to win.

“I didn’t expect any of this coming into the event, but I’m extremely thrilled with the results. Anything else now is a bonus.”

She plays Emily Brennan (Trentham), who has swept all before her since edging her way into the match play. “Qualifying was shocking!” she laughed. “But match play is a totally different game and I’m playing pretty well.”

This morning she knocked out girl international Charlotte Heath (Huddersfield) and in the quarter-finals she scored a 19th hole win over Rosie Belsham (Whitley Bay), who recently scored a record win in the Fairhaven Trophies.

After a very scrappy start on the first, Brennan and Belsham settled into a terrific battle. Belsham rammed home a birdie putt on 18 to take the game into extra time, but Brennan’s par on the next put paid to her challenge.

“Apart from the first we played pretty solid and it went back and forth. If I made a mistake Rosie snatched it and vice versa,” said Brennan.

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