Rose Ladies Series: Walton Heath

AMAZING EXPERIENCE: Rachel Gourley with her playing partners Dame Laura Davies (left) and Trish Johnson

Stars align for Rachel Gourley as she makes history alongside legends of British golf

ROSE SERIES: Monday, April 25th

FORMAT: 18-hole Strokeplay

Amazing is happening on a pretty regular basis for Northumberland golfer Rachel Gourley this year but her exploits entered a new stratosphere this afternoon when she became the first amateur to win a Rose Ladies Series event.

The 17-year-old England Girls international was four shots behind with five holes to go at Walton Heath but birdied 14, 15, 17 and 18 to win by two from professionals Sharna Dutrieux and Cara Gainer. 

Playing with English golf legends Dame Laura Davies and Trish Johnson – between them they played in the Solheim Cup 20 times – Gourley thought she needed a birdie at 18 to enter a play-off with Hayley Davis but unfortunately for the Ferndown-based pro, she triple bogeyed the last to drop back into a tie for fourth.

“It feels good,” said the Arcot Hall player, who made history at the series set up by Justin and Kate Rose in 2020. This year she has also won the Sunningdale Foursomes, Scottish Girls Open and Formby Leveret.

YOU’VE DONE IT: Rachel Gourley and her mum Emma embrace after the 17-year-old was told she had won at Walton Heath

“As I was walking off the last I was thinking ‘right let’s go’ but my mum caught up with me and said ‘you’ve won it.”

The teenager was playing in the last group and, after birdieing 17, checked the scores and discovered she was one behind Davis, who was in the group ahead. Memories of her previous visit to Walton Heath also entered her head. On her way to winning an extraordinary Justin Rose/Daily Telegraph Grand Final in October, Gourley took an eight at the last so was delighted to see her drive sail into the middle of the fairway.

With 70 yards to go she was left with the perfect number for one of her wedges and knocked it 12 feet before holing out.

THE WINNING PUTT: Rachel Gourley birdies 18

She added: “To play with Trish and Dame Laura was insane. I was so nervous at the start – and there were quite a lot of people watching – so I was just trying to not make a bogey.”

Any nerves eased off as she opened with four successive pars before almost producing  the shot off her life. At the par five fifth she wasn’t hopeful as she walked towards the gorse after her tee shot went too far left. However she got a huge break and was able to “punch a 7 iron” towards the target from 200 yards out and it just caught the downslope. 

And kept on going.

It finally came to rest just a foot short of the hole and her tap-in eagle gave her the boost she needed.

However it wasn’t until the 14th that her round really caught fire.

Having bogeyed the ninth and 12th, she stood on the tee well down the field but got back under par as she holed out from seven feet.

At 15 she found the rough from the tee, 50 yards away from the target. However she was able to chop one out to four feet and got herself back in the title-winning picture by sinking the putt.

With adrenline flowing she smashed her tee shot at the par five next through the fairway and couldn’t keep the ball on the green with her approach, eventually settling for a par.

But at 17 she boomed one away and kept it on the short stuff. With just 50 yards left she took full advantage to get to three under. A five-foot putt was sunk and just a few minutes later she would be celebrating a history-making victory in front of an appreciative crowd at the legendary Surrey venue.

FIRST AMATEUR CHAMPION: Northumberland star Rachel Gourley
Leadings scores – pro unless stated (par 73)
1) Rachel Gourley (Am, Arcot Hall) 69 (-4)
2= Sharna Dutrieux 71 (-2)
3= Cara Gainer 71 (-2)
4= Lauren Taylor 72 (-1)
4=  Anna Molloy (Am, Sandy Lodge) 72 (-1)
4= Sophie Stone 72 (-1)
4= Lottie Woad (Am, Farnham) 72 (-1)
4= Annabel Dimmock 72 (-1)
4= Hayley Davis 72 (-1)
4= Dame Laura Davies 72 (-1)
11= Emily Slater 73 (Level)
11= Emily Toy 73 (Level)
For full scores click here