Fiona Edmond was today crowned English Senior Women’s Amateur champion and then confessed she feared an elbow injury had put paid to her chances of ever winning again at this level.
Edmond, from Aldeburgh in Suffolk, was pushed all the way by Broadstone’s Jane Southcombe in a dramatic final at Market Rasen Golf Club.
The match finished all square after 18 holes before Edmond prevailed with a birdie four at the first extra hole.
It was a fittingly dramatic end to a week when the quality of the Lincolnshire heathland course was matched by the standard of play on show.
Back in 2017, Edmond won this title at South Staffordshire.
However, injury has blighted her time since that triumph and that’s what made this win all the sweeter for the England international.
As she cradled the Wendy Taylor Trophy for a second time, Edmond said: “I can’t believe it.
“I’ve had three absolutely desperate years fighting injury and not being able to play at all.
“It’s been so frustrating not to be able to go out on the course even to play a few holes with the family.
“To play a bit this year was a bonus.
“I entered the Senior Women’s Stroke Play at Hayling to see how it would go and was struggling to find my game a bit.
“I came here with no expectations and was just trying to get through the week without doing damage to the elbow.
“I really thought I wouldn’t get back to this level. I had some very dark days and even took up cycling as I ‘m not a person that sits still very well.”
Edmond’s passage to the final was secured thanks to a 5&4 win against Clarissa Bushell from West Sussex in the semi-final.
Five birdies in 14 holes showed the quality of Edmond’s play. A 20-footer for a two on the 14th to close out the game was typical of her deadly accuracy with the flatstick.
Southcombe’s wonderful week continued with her 3&2 win over Jackie Foster in the other semi-final.
Having raced into the lead by winning the first three holes, Southcombe never looked back and had the luxury of a two-putt par on the 16th hole to edge out Foster.
The final promised to be nip and tuck and didn’t disappoint.
All week Southcombe (pictured below) had grown in belief.
Her ability to grind it out in match play had already allowed her to topple top seed from the stroke play qualifying, Tracey Williamson, as well as experienced England international Foster and another former champion in Aileen Greenfield.
Edmond’s touch around the greens had been particularly noteworthy and the Aldeburgh golfer had rarely looked flustered in any of her matches, clearly enjoying the challenge of tight, tree-lined fairways when a key strength is her accuracy off the tee.
Edmond got off to a flying start – winning the first three holes as Southcombe’s nerves kicked in.
But Southcombe has proved to be a fighter all week.
Edmond led by two holes at the turn, but Southcombe fought back to win the 10th and 12th holes.
A birdie two at the 14th followed by a par at the next hole put Edmond two clear, but once again Southcombe showed nerve to win the 16th and 18th with pars and take the match into extra time.
However, a brilliant pitch and run from the edge of the 1st green gave Edmond a four-foot birdie putt which she duly sank to take the victory after a play-off.
She added: “Two up with three to play you’d think was a fairly good position!
“Andy (husband and caddie) just said – make a birdie in the play off and that’s what I was concentrating on. The rest is history.”
Southcombe was disappointed not to win, but can look back on a week when she proved to herself that she can compete at this level.
“I’ve had an amazing run and beaten some very good players and that’s what I have to take away from this.
“I need to work harder and just keep believing in myself.”
In the over 60s competition, the final also went to a sudden death finish.
Camberley Heath’s Sheree Dove-Wilde and Betty Sworowski from Wakefield could not be separated after 18 holes.
Dove-Wilde (pictured above) eventually claimed the victory at the second extra hole to win the Ann Howard Trophy.
Photography credit: Leaderboard