Play-off victory for Amy Boulden

2013 Women's Stroke Play Champion - Amy Boulden

Welsh star Amy Boulden birdied the first hole of a sudden death play-off to win the English women’s open stroke play championship at Mannings Heath, Sussex.

Her textbook three on the first extra hole ended the impressive challenge of Singapore-based Charlotte Thomas – and provided a fitting finale to a day of superb golf which kept a large crowd captivated.

The two players had tied on three-under par after an exciting final round when the lead shifted to and fro between them. Dorset’s Hayley Davis looked set to join them – or overtake them – after chargi ng through the back nine, only to drop back with a double bogey on the last.

“I knew it would take a birdie to win,” said Amy (Image © Leaderboard Photography) after she clinched her second stroke play title of the year, having already won the Welsh version. She also won the U23 and U21 trophies, while the U18 title went to Bethan Popel of Long Ashton, Gloucestershire.

Amy, who was a member of the winning GB&I team at the 2012 Curtis Cup, came to this event straight from the Ricoh Women’s British Open and said: “I have been playing well for the last few weeks and I knew I was capable of winning. But Charlotte played great golf all day and she deserved to win as much as I did.”

The two players had shared the lead at the halfway stage of the championship and began today’s final 36 holes tied on three-under par. After this morning’s third round Charlotte had got to four-under and held a slender one-shot lead.

But Amy wiped that out with a birdie on the first hole of the final round and moved into the lead when Charlotte bogeyed the second. Before long, though, the balance was swinging to and fro as they traded birdies and an occasional bogey.

Charlotte appeared to have the upper hand after the 12th, where Amy lost her tee shot and took a double bogey, handing a two-shot lead to her opponent. The margin stayed the same after the long 13th, which they both birdied, but on the  short 14th Charlotte’s tee shot bounced deep into trees and she had to return to the tee, en route to a double bogey of her own. The players were neck and neck once again.

However, Charlotte came straight back with a birdie on the 15th to get back to four-under and regain her one shot lead. Meanwhile, Hayley Davis was playing stunning golf and after birdies on 13, 14 and 16 – where she holed out of a bunker – she was also four-under.

But the difficult 18th lay ahead and played its part in shaping the outcome of the championship. Hayley double bogeyed the hole, while Charlotte had a bogey after just overshooting the putting surface with her approach. Amy, meanwhile, was just short in two but secured her par with an excellent up and down. Honours even and the pair set off down the first hole in a play-off.

Both were within 10ft of the pin with their approach shots. Charlotte putted first and her ball slid past the hole. Amy took her chance, slotted the ball firmly in the cup – and the title was hers.

Now she’ll have a week off before bidding for her third strokeplay title of the year – at the British stroke play championship at Prestwick. Meanwhile Charlotte will play in next week’s English mid-amateur championship at John O’Gaunt, while Hayley will have a break before returning to Baylor University, Texas, and US college golf.

Leading final scores

Par 72 CSS 76 76 75 75

285 Amy Boulden (Conwy) 72 69 72 72; Charlotte Thomas (Singapore) 71 70 71 73. Boulden won on the first play off hole.
287 Hayley Davis (Ferndown) 71 74 72 70
290 Lauren Taylor (Woburn) 70 72 74 74
293 Rachael Goodall (Heswall) 74 72 73 74
294 Meghan Maclaren (Wellingborough) 72 72 76 74
297 Elizabeth Mallett (Sutton Coldfield ladies’) 78 73 75 71; Bethan Popel (Long Ashton) 79 73 72 73; Eilidh Brigg (Kilmacolm) 74 74 75 74