Surrey: Women’s County Championship

Surrey Women’s County champion Sarah Mardani (Widdlesham)

Sarah holds her nerve to claim championship glory at Betchworth Park

SURREY: Tuesday, June 1st

It was case of third time lucky for Windlesham’s Sarah Mardani, who found top form at just the right time to claim the Surrey Women’s Championship at the first attempt.

The 17-year-old tackled fellow junior Ellen Yates (West Hill) in the final and battled her way to dormie three in a high-class climax to an event which attracted 22 competitors to Betchworth Park.

And stood on the 16th tee, Sarah was three up but lost that hole and then failed to two putt 17 to set up a nerve-jangling final hole. On 18 both reached the par five in three with Sarah 12 feet away and her opponent putting first from 30 feet. While Ellen missed, the soon-to-be champion again had two for it and this time made no mistakes.

“The nerves were really kicking in after 17,” said the three-time Windlesham club champion. “I was really pleased to be two under for both matches on the Sunday (semi & final) and my adreneline was really high and I didn’t feel tired. I was really in the zone and played with a lot of confidence.”

The knockout stages were dominated by juniors and it was no surprise two of Surrey’s finest made it all the way through although for the Windlesham player a slow start in the strokeplay meant she qualifed in ninth, nine shots behind Abigail Rowlands (Foxhills).

With the top four getting a bye into the quarter-finals, Sarah took on Hinehead’s Rebecca Gee for a place in the last eight and won that 4&3 before seeing off Gabrielle Shacklady (Limpsfield Chart) 3&2.

Long-time friend Alex Phelps was all that stood between Sarah and a place in the final and some inspired play from the 17-year-old eased her to a 3&2 success. Two of her birdies came via a 60-foot putt on the fifth and a 30-foot chip in on first.

Against Ellen Yates it was close at the start and the West Hill teenager went ahead for the only time at the sixth thanks to a brilliant eagle but Sarah hit straight back with a birdie at the seventh and she also won the next to take a lead which would only last two holes as Ellen won the tenth.

At this point Sarah took control and by the 16th was three up before her late wobble ensured she had to hole a putt at the last to clinch it.

Matchplay qualifiers (par 73)
1) Abigail Rowlands (-1, Foxhills) 77, 73, 150
2) Gabrielle Shacklady (1, Limpsfield Chart) 77, 75, 152
3) Alex Phelps (2, Woking) 80, 73, 153
4) Herry Ji (-1, Burhill) 72, 81, 153
5) Ellen Yates (1, West Hill) 77, 77, 154
6) Niamh O’Connor (2, Worplesdon) 77, 77, 154
7) Hyun-Ji Kim (-1, Royal Wimbledon) 76, 78, 154
8) Rebecca Gee (-1, Hinehead) 80, 77, 157
9) Sarah Mardani (-2, Windlesham) 81, 78, 159
10) Kimberley Munro (4, Epsom) 84, 80
11) Nicola Taylor (2, Walton Heath) 86, 79, 165
12) Matilde Santili (2, Foxhills) 80, 85, 165
Matchplay – first round*
Kim beat Munro 3&2
Yates beat Taylor 1 hole
O’Connor beat Santili 4&2
Mardani beat Gee 4&3
Rowlands beat Kim 2&1
Yates beat Ji 1 hole
Phelps beat O’Connor 4&2
Mardani beat Shacklady 3&2
Yates beat Rowlands 6&5
Mardani beat Phelps 3&2
Mardani beat Yates 1 hole
* Rowlands, Shacklady, Phelps and Ji received a bye into the quarter-final