Lulu scores play-off victory to win senior title

Lulu Housman - 2015 English Senior Open Amateur Stroke Play Champion

International Lulu Housman held her nerve through a topsy-turvy final day to win the English senior women’s stroke play championship in a play-off at Broadstone, Dorset.

“It’s stunning, a lifetime moment,” said the Middlesex player (image © Leaderboard Photography), after ending the challenge of Aileen Greenfield of Sussex on the first sudden-death hole.

Housman (Wyke Green) started the day two off the lead and clinched the title by playing steadily through the ups and downs of her main rivals.

Cheshire’s Sue Dye – who has won this title twice before – was the overnight leader and was still one ahead as she and Housman stood on the 18th tee. But then disaster struck: her drive hit trees and came down short, her second went in the rough and eventually she walked off the green with a double bogey six.

Housman, meanwhile, had had opportunities to forge ahead but had missed some crucial three-footers. “Yesterday I felt I couldn’t drive, but I putted well. Today, I drove well but couldn’t putt!”

However, she kept an eye on the scoreboard and dug in: “It was a question of hanging on, being patient and hoping I would hole a putt,” she said. On the 18th, when the opportunity appeared, she made no mistakes and, in front of a large crowd of spectators, she managed a textbook par four – and walked off the green and into a play-off.

Greenfield, who is playing her first season of senior golf, had been four shots off the lead after the 14th, but birdied three of the remaining four holes to move to the top of the leaderboard. Initially, she had no idea she was doing so well: “I was going to put my clubs away afterwards, it didn’t even occur to me there would be a play-off.” The two players tied on 13-over par, with Housman scoring 75 78 76 and Greenfield (Pyecombe) returning 78 76 75.

The play-off on the par five first provided plenty of drama. First, Housman drove into the heathery rough as she tried an ambitious line off the tee; then Greenfield attacked the green with her second, only to go in the water hazard and collect a penalty stroke.

“I was maybe a bit greedy off the tee, but the ball was lying nicely in the rough and I could hit it back on to right side of the hole. I knew if I could do that I would have a chance,” said Housman – and so it proved.

She summed it up: “I think that I was just the steadier against both of my fellow competitors.”

She had arrived at Broadstone determined to do well, with the main aim of keeping her place in the England senior team, having helping to win a European gold medal and the Home Internationals last year. “So I was up for it, but really because I wanted to make sure of my place in the team.”

For Greenfield there was some disappointment but she said: “If anyone had told me I would be second I would have bitten their hand off. I’m absolutely thrilled to bits.”

Sue Dye (Delamere Forest) took third place with a philosophical remark of: “That’s just golf, isn’t it.” Other prize winners were Julie Brown (Trentham), Caroline Berry (Bromborough) and Debbie Richards (Burhill). Gill Snelson (Wellingborough) won the over-65 trophy.

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