Amelia Williamson is excited to embrace the challenge posed by Royal St George’s after developing a love and appreciation of links golf.
For the first time ever, the famous Kent course will play host to a professional women’s event on Thursday when the fourth championship in the Rose Ladies Series tees off.
Williamson (pictured above right) is one of three England Golf amateurs in the field.
The overseas women’s squad member is joined in the stellar line-up by current British Women’s Amateur champion Emily Toy (above left) and Australian Women’s Open champion Charlotte Heath (pictured centre).
The 20-year-old from Norfolk is eager to play a course renowned as one of England’s finest and, following cancellation this year, confirmed as the host venue for the 2021 Open Championship.
As a member at both Royal Cromer and a classic links track at Hunstanton, Williamson is no stranger to the peculiar test thrown up by coastal golf.
And although now based most of the year in Tallahassee at the University of Florida, the England international feels right at home in among the dunes.
As if to prove the point, her competitive comeback at Hunstanton at the height of an English ‘summer’ showed her just what to expect if the wind blows at Sandwich tomorrow.
“I was hoping this was the one I would get to play in out of all the great venues in the Rose Series, “ confirmed Williamson ahead of a practice round on the Kent coast.
“I’ve never played Royal St George’s before, but do remember watching the Open in 2011.
“It’s my first time playing in a professional event and only my second competition of the season, but I’m really looking forward to it as I enjoy links golf.
“I recently played an event at Hunstanton on the worst day of the summer!
“It was showers and 40km an hour winds and I managed to shoot one over par which was pleasing in the circumstances.
“I’m not putting any pressure on myself this week, but I’m excited to take part and its great that these events have been put on to give the pros a chance to get back into competition and for amateurs to test themselves too.”
When lockdown was on the horizon in March, Williamson left the Sunshine State for home and has spent her time practising as well as helping her dad Mark out on his farm.
“I wasn’t doing too much – just a few things with the tractors. Because I’m away now I’m not used to it all so didn’t get too involved,” she added with a smile.
But there’s also been plenty time for family golf since courses reopened in May.
Mum Tracey plays off one and will caddy for her daughter at Royal St George’s while dad is also a tidy two-handicapper.
With that family pedigree, it’s no surprise that Williamson has blossomed in recent years to become a mainstay of both the England girls’ and then women’s squads before heading to college in the States.
In Florida, Williamson has combined her studies in sport management and economics with golf and is trying to add more strings to her bow.
Renowned as a fine iron player and ‘par machine’, Williamson has focused more on her short game.
Now, having dedicated time to a weakness in her game, she’s keen to make sure she doesn’t overlook practising her strengths too.
“My scoring has been on and off,” added last year’s Chiberta Grand Prix and Astor Salver winner.
“I definitely think my scores have not truly reflected how I’ve been playing.
“I’ve been working on a few things and maybe over-focused on one aspect of my game.
“I had a reputation for being a player that hit a lot of greens, two-putted and had no real need to rely on my chipping and putting.
“But in the States I understood that there was going to be a need for me to make a lot more birdies and I’ve worked on wedges and putting and perhaps neglected my irons a little.
“It’s a case of now striking the right balance.”
Williamson has landed an appetising draw alongside Felicity Johnson and Georgina Blackman.
Toy – so keen to back into the competitive swing of things ahead of the defence of her women’s amateur crown at West Lancashire in August – has also got a good grouping.
The Cornish golfer tees it up with Charlotte Thompson and Whitney Hillier.
Yorkshire’s Heath is out in the first group alongside Rachel Drummond and Georgia Price.
Also in the field are Rose Ladies Series Order of Merit leader Charley Hull, former British Women’s Open champion Georgia Hall, Meghan MacLaren and Dame Laura Davies.
As a result of Covid-19 restrictions, no spectators are allowed on the course.
For details of Thursday’s play follow the England Golf Twitter feed. A highlights reel and interviews from the day will also be broadcast on Sky Sports Golf.
AMATEUR TEE TIMES
11.15 – Rachel Drummond, Georgia Price, Charlotte Heath
11.37 – Felicity Johnson, Georgina Blackman, Amelia Williamson
14.23 – Emily Toy, Charlotte Thompson, Whitney Hillier