England Golf: Women’s Open Strokeplay

TRUE MASTER: England Women’s Strokeplay champion Bel Wardle (Prestbury)

Brilliant Bel lifts her game to new heights

EG: Friday, August 20th

FORMAT: 72-hole strokeplay

A breathtaking run of scoring from Bel Wardle secured her a second English Women’s Open Strokeplay title at Wallasey last night.

The Cheshire and England star, who also won the event in 2017, was 19 under par for her final 45 holes and finished nine clear of Ellie Gower (Gleneagles). Just for good measure she went bogey free in the fourth round.

“That’s the best I’ve ever played,” said the Prestbury player.

“Never before have I followed up a really low one with another really low one, nevermind another one after that. When I did make a mistake I was still making pars.”

Three weeks ago at the English Amateur at Moortown, the 21-year-old lost the final in agonising fashion and used that disappointment as motivation to go one better.

She added: “The putter got really hot in round two and it stayed that way. I started to hit the ball closer because the wind was a lot calmer for the final two rounds so it was easier to control the ball in. With every opportunity I had, I seemed to get the birdie.

“I used my defeat at the English Amateur Championship to spur me on because I didn’t want to come second again. That was the main motivation for me and I’m so pleased to have got over the line.”

The victory also represented something of a remarkable turnaround win. On day one the wet and windy conditions ensured good scoring was incredibly difficult and Bel posted an opening 78 to trail Scotland international Laura McClymont (Milngavie) by seven shots.

Conditions weren’t much easier the next day but her round caught fire in the closing stages as she birdied six of her final seven holes.

“When I got to four under for the round, I said to myself just get to ‘five under’ and when I did that said ‘get to six under’ and so on.

“I was just in that scoring mode and it just felt like everything I touched was going to go in the hole. I have only ever had the feeling once before, playing in the Welsh Open Strokeplay at Royal St David’s a couple of years ago. Then I was seven under for my back nine.”

This time she was seven under for 18 holes and it left her one ahead of McClymont at halfway.

There were 36 holes played on the final day and the Cheshire champion kept her foot to the floor, opening with three more birdies in her first five holes.

However there was a huge shock to the system on the sixth tee where she duffed her tee shot into deep rough.

“It was a shocking shot and can’t have gone much more than 80 yards,” added Bel.

“I managed to hack it out but still had 190 to the pin and I have put a 4 iron to 25/30 feet and holed the putt for the par. Knocking it in really helped me settle down.

“Especially as sometimes you can play 36 holes on the final day and get stuck thinking it is ‘the final day’ when you are, in reality, just halfway through and the competition is still wide open. Before I have collapsed in the third round and left myself too much to do. I kept telling myself to keep pushing while at the same time saying to myself that nothing was going to be decided in this round.”

There was just one blemish – a bogey at the ninth – but again she finished strongly, capped by an eagle at 17 which helped her start the closing 18 holes five ahead of the Scottish ace and six clear of Gower and Amelia Williamson (Hunstanton).

Any hopes the chasing pack had of reeling her in were effectively ended relatively early on with Bel rounding off a superb front nine with her fourth birdie of the afternoon. She also birdied the 11th and the 16th to close with a six-under-par 68.

Leading scores (par 74)
1) Bel Wardle (Prestbury) 78, 67, 67, 68, 280 (-16)
2) Ellie Gower (Gleneagles) 77, 73, 68, 71, 289 (-7)
3) Amelia Williamson (Hunstanton) 74, 72, 72, 72, 290 (-6)
4) Lorna McClymont (Milngavie) 71, 75, 71, 73, 290 (-6)
5) Lottie Woad (Farnham) 81, 75, 68, 68, 292 (-4)
6) Kate Lanigan (Hermitage) 76, 76, 71, 71, 294 (-2)
7) Amy Taylor (Bawburgh) 80, 75, 72, 69, 296 (Level)
8) Shannon O’Dwyer (The Wynyard) 79, 73, 72, 72, 296 (Level)
9) Jessica Hall (Bishop Auckland) 77, 73, 73, 74, 297 (+1)
10) Emma Allen (Stoneham) 81, 78, 79, 70, 298 (+2)
For all the scores click here