Surrey golfers Helen Atkinson and Tina Thomas made their dreams come true when they won the Plate Final of the PING women’s fourball betterball tournament by two points.
They travelled to PING’s Gainsborough Golf Club with high hopes of winning and pulled it off when they scored 45 points on the Thonock Park course, finishing ahead of Jane Monk and Karen Cook from The Links, Newmarket.
“I’m amazed and very proud,” said Tina, while Helen added: “It means such a lot, especially as we know how hard it is to get through to the final.”
The tournament – which is run by England Golf – attracted entries from 16,610 women from 885 clubs and the best qualifying score was 53 points. The top 50 pairs nationwide qualified for tomorrow’s Grand Final, and the next 50 played in today’s Plate Final.
Last year, Tina and Helen, from West Hill Golf Club, qualified for the Grand Final and they decided to renew their partnership for the 2017 competition. They missed out on a Grand Final place on countback but made the most of their Plate Final opportunity.
Their play dovetailed and they loved the championship experience: “It makes you feel special,” said Helen. “We’re not professionals but the treatment makes you feel like a ‘proper’ golfer.”
Helen, who plays off 11, has been a golfer for eight years, while Tina, a 27-handicapper, returned to the game three years ago after an absence of 21 years, stopping when her daughter was born.
Runners up Jane Monk and Karen Cook came very close to pulling off a remarkable double – for Jane’s sister, Lynn Lambert, was the 2015 Plate winner with Marcella Tuttle, also from The Links, Newmarket.
But Jane made sure it was an event to remember with her first hole in one in practice, with a six iron on the 138-yard third hole. “It was a real slam dunk,” she laughed. “We have had a really, really good time.” Karen added: “And we’ll be back!”
The remaining prizes were decided on countback after the next four pairs all tied on 40 points. Third place went to Emily Faldon and Claire Watson of Broke Hill, Kent. Fourth were Anne Armitage and Erica Rigg of Elsham, Lincolnshire; fifth were Eileen McMullan and Lynda Thorpe of Richmond, Yorkshire; and sixth place went to Annie Goodchild and Sue Kreft of Northampton Golf Club.
The championship finals also offer the players the chance to visit PING’s European Custom Fitting Centre and to take part in competitions. Paula Kidby (Kirton Holme, Lincolnshire) and Lynda Thorpe won the putting competition; Gail Parry (Chilwell Manor, Nottinghamshire), Clare Jones (Beeston Fields, Nottinghamshire) and Paula Ferris (Swinton Park, Lancashire) won the ‘hit your yardage’ event.
Dave Fanning, marketing director for PING Europe, announced the return of the championship in 2018 and remarked: “It’s 12 years since we came up with the concept of a ladies’ championship which was inclusive of all standards of golfer. Ladies’ golf is at the heart of the Solheim family and we are really keen to support it and see it grow.”