England Golf: Girls U-16s

HAPPY DAYS: England U-16s champion Maggie Whitehead (Close House) celebrates at Morecambe

Another classy effort as Maggie wins by nine

EG: Friday, July 30th

FORMAT: 72-hole strokeplay

Northumberland’s Maggie Whitehead once again demonstrated she is a star in the making with a nine-shot victory in the England U-16s at Morecambe.

The 15-year-old, who intends to defend her title in 2022, has been a model of consistency in major events this summer and put in a brilliant display on the final day as stormy conditions ensured the North Lancashire venue became a real test.

The Close House player, who is part of the England Girls squad playing in the Junior Home Internationals at Woodhall Spa next week, started the 36-hole final day one behind North Hants’ Gemma Burgess and remarkably was two under for her closing two rounds and -7 overall. The quality of her play was perfectly demonstarted by the fact she was 20 shots clear of fifth-placed Ellise Rymer (Lincoln).

Maggie, who last night received messages of congratulations from clubmate Lee Westwood, Justin Rose and dozens of family and friends, has been working with England Golf psychologist Rosie Collins on the challenges of leading golf events and it certainly paid off.

MAGGIE IN MAJOR EVENTS THIS YEAR
• England Girls U-16s: 1st
• England Girls Open Strokeplay: 3rd
• England U-18s (mixed): 4th
• St Rule Trophy: 6th
• British Amateur: Last 16

“I have struggled before when I am leading and I start trying to protect a lead,” said Maggie.

“This time when I got ahead I said to myself, ‘now get a two-shot lead’ and then ‘a three-shot lead’ and so on. I have spoken to Rosie about it and it has been really helpful having conversations wth her.”

Her battle with Gemma had a matchplay feel with the Hampshire player starting her third round strongly but then stumbling which meant the duo were level pegging with  27 holes to go.

“Gemma holed a great putt on four for eagle but I always expect my partners to hole every putt, find every fairway and hit every green,” added Maggie.

“But I knew in the conditions there weren’t going to be as many birdies. The course was short but it was playing long for the final two rounds and I knew, particularly on the back nine, it was about keeping the big numbers off the card. I didn’t go for pins and just tried to find the middle of the green and keep two-putting.”

The Close House player critically completed her third round in 74 and kept a six off the card while the scores all around her rocketed.

Starting the final round she was four clear and after seven holes her lead was seven thanks to birdies on two, four and seven. She also birdied 10 and 11 and allowed herself a little moment to celebrate after parring the short par three 16th.

“The 16th is a really tricky par three and I missed the green but then chipped to a foot so was able to get the hole done before Gemma and Harriet (Lockley) putted.

“I was stood on the side of the green watching them and thought ‘I don’t want to speak to soon but I’ve done it’. There wasn’t too much that could have gone wrong on 17 and 18.”

She did bogey the penultimate hole but responded in style, sinking a 15-footer at the last for her seventh three of the round and, despite the unhelpful conditions, her three-under-par 70, was her joint best score of the week.

Leading scores (par 73)
1) Maggie Whitehead (Close House) 70, 71, 74, 70, 285 (-7)
2) Gemma Burgess (North Hants) 68, 72, 78, 73, 294 (+2)
3) Katie Poots (Knock) 75, 72, 78, 73, 298 (+6)
4) Ellen Yates (West Hill) 75, 77, 73, 74, 299 (+7)
5) Ellise Rymer (Lincoln) 77, 75, 82, 71, 305 (+13)
6) Ellie Monk (Windlesham) 78, 75, 79, 73, 305 (+13)
7) Amelia Wan (Hollinwell) 81, 72, 77, 75, 305 (+13)
8) Harriet Lockley (Burnham & Berrow) 73, 73, 83, 79, 308 (+16)
9) Ellie Burdis (West Kent) 76, 75, 80, 79, 310 (+18)
10) Lili-Rose Hunt (Droitwich) 74, 82, 77, 78, 311 (+19)
For all the scores click here