It’s fair to say that Mimi Rhodes made a spectacular first impression on LPGA and Solheim Cup star Charley Hull at the opening event of the Rose Ladies Series.
A booming drive from the 18-year England women’s squad player saw her make the green at the 308-yard, first hole at Brokenhurst Manor Golf Club.
Rhodes’ eagle putt from 25 feet then struck the flag and agonisingly hopped back out the hole to set up a tap-in birdie.
No wonder Hull had a broad grin on her face at the early exploits of her young playing partner!
Yet if Rhodes made a positive early impact on Hull (she also birdied the second hole to take the early tournament lead- see pic below) , it was nothing compared to the lasting impression the woman ranked 25 in the world made on the young England international.
Hull went on to win the event after making birdie at the first play-off hole. She pipped tournament organiser Liz Young after the duo finished the regulation 18 holes tied on a level par score of 70.
Hull, 24, is pictured above receiving the trophy and cheque from Kate Rose, wife of England Golf ambassador Justin and sponsor of the event.
And Rhodes was watching her every step of the way, eager to pick up tidbits of advice and insight as she makes her own way in the game.
Rhodes performed superbly to shoot a five over par 75 and finish in a tie for seventh place. As one of only three amateurs in the field of 47 players, her finish was highly creditable.
As she reflected on her own performance, Rhodes admitted that watching Hull at close proximity for 18 holes was the major positive she will take from the day.
“I desperately wanted to play well in front of Charley. My sister was on the bag and telling me to calm down!” joked Rhodes, a member at Burnham and Berrow Golf Club.
“At the first hole I was really nervous, but I guess there was a bit of adrenaline too.
“In practice my drive at the first was close to the green.
“Then in the event I had 310 yards to the front and I boomed one and it finished pin high.
“It was a bit awkward with players still on the green.
“My putt was from 25 feet, it hit the pin and was knocked out. Charley was laughing and the birdie settled me down.
“I had watched Charley play at the Solheim Cup last year, but never met her.
“She was obviously concentrating on her own game, but when we were walking between shots she was really friendly and the conversation felt really normal and that helped me settle.
“I was watching her play really intently. I was also listening to how her and her caddie made decisions during the round.
“My sister could have learned a lot!
“I always wondered how my game would compare to these players and playing with Charley helped me realise a few things.
“It has given me confidence that I have enough distance in my game to keep up – but the big area of difference is the short game.
“It really opened my eyes to where I need to get to in the future.
“I tightened up around the green and had five putts of around 10 feet for birdie that I didn’t take.
”I can take a lot from the experience.
“It was really good that Justin sponsored the event to give women professionals and amateurs the chance to compete in such a great event.
“For him to take such an interest in the women’s game is a real positive for our sport.
“I had time to meet his wife Kate and thank her for their support which we all truly appreciate.”
Rhodes (pictured above right with Hull as they finalised their scores) has decisions to make about what direction her season will now take with options to play a couple more events in England or head to America for the US Amateur.
Whatever route she takes, it does appear that her career is following an upward trajectory as she looks forward to the rest of the summer and then a move to America for college.
“I’m going to Wake Forest in North Carolina at the end of August and really looking forward to combining studies with golf,” added Rhodes.
“It’s an exciting time and hopefully I can make progress toward my goal of eventually becoming a professional.”
ICYMI: Thank you to the team at Sky Sports Golf for their coverage of the event.