It rained and then it poured – but England’s leading seniors put on an impressive display of dogged determination in the first match play round of their national championship.
The English senior women’s amateur is something of a magnet for bad weather – and the greenstaff put in sterling work to keep the greens playable (pictured bottom). The players, meanwhile, were stoic. “You’ve just got to get on with it,” was the steady response as they returned, cold and dripping wet, to the South Staffordshire clubhouse.
“I haven’t played in a good weather one yet!” said former champion Julie Brown of Trentham (pictured top), who nevertheless had a successful outing, losing just one hole and winning her game 5/4. Tomorrow she plays fellow international Lindsey Shaw (Chevin, Derbyshire).
Brown is one of two Staffordshire players through to the second round, alongside the host club’s Annette Deeley – who is living the dream.
Three years ago she was recovering from breast cancer and major surgery when Brown – a good friend – told her that this championship was due to be played at her home club. “That was the catalyst, that kept me going. I’m playing here because I can and it’s been a fantastic experience,” she said.
Today she knocked out former British champion Katherine Russell (Royal Ashdown Forest, Sussex) and tomorrow she faces another past winner of the British title, Felicity Christine (Woking, Surrey).
Top seed Caroline Berry and defending champion Cath Rawthore will be pitted against each other in an intriguing all-Cheshire second round clash.
Berry (Bromborough) was taken to the last hole by English senior captain Debbie Richards (Burhill, Surrey) but a birdie on the 17th – her third there in consecutive rounds – had given her a crucial advantage.
Rawthore (Sale) sped away in her game and was six up at the turn, but her opponent, Jane Sly (Mill Ride, Berkshire), pulled her back with a pair of birdies and the match went to the 15th.
Two more past champions are safely through to the next round. The 2015 winner, Helen Lowe, (Scraptoft, Leicestershire) will take on Fiona Edmond (Ipswich, Suffolk), who was an England international in the early 90s and is making her debut in senior golf.
The 2013 champion, Janet Melville (Royal Birkdale, Lancashire) birdied the last to take her place against Lulu Housman (Wyke Green, Middlesex), a past winner of the English senior stroke play title. Housman in turn came through a good tussle with last year’s runner-up, Karen Jobling (Richmond, Yorkshire).
Another international, Aileen Greenfield (Pyecombe, Sussex), improvised with her rescue club to avoid fat chip shots and it paid off with a 3/2 win. She plays Sandy Catford (Wath, Yorkshire) who was another fast starter today. She was five up at the turn before Linda Hunt (Newbury & Crookham, Berkshire) fought back and took the match to the 16th. “It was a really good, feisty second nine,” said Catford.
Jo Shorrocks (Bigbury, Devon), mounted a successful fightback after dropping three behind in her game. “I had a struggle and a big hook – and changed my grip over the last few holes and managed to win,” she said after her 2up win. She will play Nicola Tebbutt (Carlisle, Cumbria).
Tomorrow’s line-up is completed by English senior stroke play champion Jackie Foster (Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire) and Julia Gallagher (Woburn, Bedfordshire) who won through on the 19th today.
In the second flight, for over 60s, the top seed Cathy Armstrong (Ellesborough, Buckinghamshire), was toppled by the 16th qualifier, Sue Penfold (Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire), who won 1up. She now plays Sue Westall (Copt Heath, Warwickshire).