Derbyshire golfers Sian Mansey and Carol Simpson came through one of the closest-ever finals to become the PING Fourball Betterball Plate champions of 2014.
They were one of four pairs who tied on 41 points at Gainsborough Golf Club in Lincolnshire, but they saw off their opposition thanks to their excellent back nine, which earned them 21 points.
“I’m overwhelmed, absolutely thrilled to bits” said Sian, while Carol added: “It’s been a fantastic day.” The pair, from Horsley Lodge Golf Club came through an initial entry of about 16,000 women from over 900 clubs, which is a tournament record. The top 60 pairs in the country qualified for tomorrow’s Grand Final while the next 60 pairs went through to today’s Plate Final.
A dry, sunny day created ideal conditions for scoring and the players, who received three-quarters handicap, responded in style and created a tightly packed leaderboard.
A series of countbacks were needed to decide the first four spots with second place going to Mary MacLaren and Carol Gibbs of Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. The MacLaren family are enjoying a successful year: Mary, an Irish senior, has already won an England Golf senior regional event, and her daughter, Meghan, is the new British stroke play champion.
Third place was taken by Jill Gambling and Kim Wellman of West Malling, Kent; while Cath Oxley and Jaci Fennon of Ryton, near Newcastle, were fourth.
More countbacks were required to decide the remaining two pairs of prizewinners, who both had 40 points. Rosemary Wadmore and Jane Harper of Windermere were fifth, pipping Caroline Gard and Michelle Lawton of Frinton, Essex who in turn knocked out another pair.
Winners Sian and Carol (Image © Leaderboard Photography) have forged their successful partnership since being called up to play for Derbyshire four years ago, turning out mostly for the second team, with occasional outings for the first. They were paired together – and hit it off, becoming firm friends and successful golfing partners, with a string of open meeting successes to their credit.
However the pair, who both play off six handicap, had few expectations today. “I’m just back from holiday and we got here late last night,” said Sian. “We came for a nice day out at the end of the season. Carol played out of her skin and I came in when needed.”
They didn’t have time to play the course but it didn’t matter – they went round in a betterball score of level par, with a display of classy putting.
“It’s just been a fantastic day, we had a great welcome, everyone we spoke to has been courteous and kind and helpful, the course was in excellent condition and we really enjoyed the greens,” said Sian.
Her comments were echoed over and again by the other competitors, who relished the blend of sociable and competitive golf. This is the ninth year of the competition and the players have embraced the event, with most pairs turning out in their club colours.
The competitors included a mother and daughter – and a pair who combined the names of Duck and Mallard!
Caption: PING Plate winners Carol Simpson (left) and Sian Mansey from Horsley Lodge Golf Club in Derbyshire