Dorset’s Sophie Keech won her second national title of the year when she scored a five-shot victory in the English girls’ open championship at Oake Manor, Somerset.
The 17-year-old from Parkstone (image © Leaderboard Photography), who is already the English schools’ champion, finished the 72-hole event on level par with rounds of 70 68 73 73.
Her playing partner Annabel Dimmock (Wentworth) was runner-up on five-over, while Emily Slater (Woodhall Spa) was a further shot back in third place.
“Last year, and the one before, were good for me but winning this makes this year my best-ever – and there’s still more to come,” said Sophie, who is also the South West girls’ champion and who was runner-up in the South West ladies’. She was previously the schools’ champion in 2011 – and only lost the title on countback in 2012.
But, the English girls’ championship has long been a target for Sophie, whose friend and county colleague, Hayley Davis, is a past winner. “It’s really nice to follow in her footsteps,” she remarked.
Sophie was in the mix throughout the event, holding fourth place after the first round and moving into a three-shot lead at the halfway stage. After this morning’s third round, when she shot two-over 73, she had extended her lead to four – and she was determined to stay in front.
“I tried to keep in front the whole time, I didn’t want to drop back and have to attack. I wanted the others to chase me,” she said.
That’s the way it played out. Her challengers jockeyed for position behind her, but none of them managed to catch her as she fashioned another 73, playing both nines in one-over par.
Annabel Dimmock got within three shots after she birdied the 13th and Sophie bogeyed the 15th – where she visited the water – but that gap never narrowed. “I knew I was three ahead and I told myself to par in,” Sophie commented. Meanwhile, her rival bogeyed both 17 and 18.
The best rounds of the day were scores of two-under par 69. Gloucestershire’s Bethan Popel (Long Ashton) struck first, in the morning, and moved briefly into second place. Lancashire’s Sophie Lamb (Clitheroe) scored her 69 in the afternoon and moved into eighth place.
Leading final scores
Par 71 CSS 74 74 74 74
284 Sophie Keech (Parkstone) 70 68 73 73
289 Annabel Dimmock (Wentworth) 68 73 74 74
290 Emily Slater (Woodhall Spa) 72 70 74 74
292 Ellie Goodall (Selby) 74 70 74 74; Lianna Bailey (Notts Ladies’) 72 73 72 75; Bethan Popel (Long Ashton) 71 75 69 77
294 Dulcie Sverdloff (Garon Park) 72 70 79 73