Stunning Welsh final victory for Bristol & Clifton ace Issy
WALES: Tuesday May 25th
Bristol and Clifton GC’s Issy Hopkins made a sensational senior Welsh competition debut in becoming one of the country’s youngest national champions at Wenvoe Castle GC.
The Chepstow-based scratch player is in the middle of GCSE exams but managed to overcome the lack of preparation and a shaky opening round to put him some stand-out efforts in the knock-out stages, culminating in a stunning final performance.
The 16-year-old was three under par for 11 holes as she ran out an 8&7 winner over Ffion Tynan (Minchinhampton). She also had a hole in one during her last 16 victory over Lauren Hillier (Newport (Ghent)).
“It has been difficult studying, doing exams and trying to play,” said Issy. “However I’ve nearly finished my GCSEs and golf is slowly becoming a priority.”
The two-time Gloucestershire Girls champion opened up the 36-hole strokeplay qualifier with a nine-over-par 79, one of 14 competitors to break 80.
It left her right on the cut line with the top 16 going forward to the matchplay stages but a strong opening nine in the second round ensured she made it through and she finished with a 76 to finish five shots behind leading qualifier Darcy Harry (Porthcawl).
After two impressive efforts in reaching the semi-final, Issy endured a nail-biting victory over Fauve Birch, losing the final two holes to send the tie into a sudden death play-off but the Pennard GC player missed the green and could not get up and down for a par at the first extra hole.
Ffion, who reached the last 16 of the Women’s Amateur last year and also finished fifth in the English Women’s Strokeplay, had a much more comfortable last four victory over Darcy (4&3) but was unfortunate to come up against an inspired opponent in the final.
The first was halved with pars but Issy won nine of the next ten holes, including the seventh where she holed a 25 footer for a birdie.
“I started slowly but just got better and better as the week went on,” said Issy. “But I definitely played my best golf in the final.”
The teenager now has a decision to make re her international future. She qualifies to play for Wales and England and as national champion would be expected to named in the Welsh squad for the Home Internationals in August.