Titleholder Cath skims to a share of the lead

Cath Rawthore

Defending champion Cath Rawthore produced a miracle shot to share the lead after the first round of the English senior women’s stroke play at Broadstone in Dorset.

She skimmed a ball across the surface of the water in front of the third green and walked off the hole with a par. “It was a corker,” she laughed, after returning a two-over par 74 to catch fellow international Julie Brown.

“I’d hit a wayward drive into deep grass and I thought about chipping out, but that would have been a shot gone. So I had a go and the ball came shooting out, went into the water and went bump, bump on to the green.

Rawthore, (image © Leaderboard Photography) from Sale in Cheshire, added: “I thought ‘Here we go!’ But my luck ran out on the seventh where I had a double bogey.”

However, she soon put that behind her and played the remaining holes in two-under par for a satisfactory start to her defence. “I’m pleased,” said Rawthore, who is also the British senior champion. “It’s nice to be there or thereabouts after day one and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a fabulous course and the greens are lovely – but tricky.”

Brown, the 2014 English senior women’s champion from Trentham, was the first to set the target on a warm, sunny day. She played steadily throughout the round, with just one three-putt, and said: “I felt I could have been one shot better but I’m not unhappy, it was a good first round.”

In contrast to Rawthore, she made short work of the par five seventh, hitting the green in two to set up a birdie. “I really went for it!” she said.

“The course is absolutely fantastic, but it’s really tough. It’s demanding on every single shot, you can’t let up anywhere, you have to focus on everything.”

Rawthore and Brown were both in early groups and, while no-one could pass them, they are being chased hard by a group of four players on three-over par.

Katherine Russell (Royal Ashdown Forest) overcame a daunting start, when she triple-bogeyed the second, by playing the remaining 16 holes in level par, with three bogeys balanced by three birdies. She is joined in third place by Lindsey Shaw (Chevin), past champion Sue Dye (Delamere Forest), and Lulu Housman (Wyke Green).

A stroke further back on four-over are Gillian Mellor (Prestbury) and Carol Wild (Notts’ Ladies).

This championship is notable for the strong local entry. Broadstone, which boasts a very competitive and friendly ladies’ section, has nine members in the field, while another ten Dorset players are taking part.

“Today has been so exciting,” said Broadstone’s Jo Hadley, who was delighted to play close to her nine handicap.

“We don’t usually play with the England Golf flags up, the giant leaderboard, the scoring cabin and the referees. It’s just like you see on the telly! It’s a lovely show and it’s been brilliant.”

After tomorrow’s second round the field will be cut to the leading 36 players and ties who will play the final round on Thursday.