Alice Barlow feels benefit of switch to full-time amateur status at Southerndown
WALES: Monday May 2nd
FORMAT: 54-hole gross stroke play
A winter of hard work has certainly paid quick dividends for Suffolk’s Alice Barlow as the five-time county champion won her first national title yesterday.
The 23-year-old went wire-to-wire to win the Welsh Women’s Open Stroke Play at damp Southerdown, eventually finishing four clear of Scotland’s Chloe Goadby (St Regulus Ladies) and Australia’s Abbie Teasdale.
The Scottish international briefly caught Barlow in the early stages of the back nine yesterday but the soon-to-be champion displayed remarkable skill and composure to close out the biggest victory of her life.
A former winner of the England Golf Junior Champion of Champions tournament, at the end of last season she became a full-time amateur with the intention of “going for it”.
And the hours of practice during the dark months were certainly evident in South Wales as she played the tough closing stretch in two under and pulled off some exceptional up-and-downs to keep the chasing pack at bay.
“I’ve worked hard during the winter and am going for it full-time and we will see what happens this year,” said Barlow, who was supported all weekend by dad and caddie Mark. “And this is a big step in the right direction.”
The Bury St Edmunds golfer started the day two clear of Teasdale but poor iron shots at 10 and 11 cost her both times and back-to-back bogeys left her on three under, level with Goadby, who was playing in the group ahead. The Scottish player had birdied three, six, eight and 11 to take a share of the lead.
The English golfer went back ahead with a birdie on 13 and needed all her powers of recovery to keep hold of it on 15 having hit a poor tee shot. She “just about got away with it” as she was able to hit a half shot and managed to bunt the ball to within three yards of the green. From there she chipped to five feet and held the par putt.
At the par five next, she lipped out for eagle and a ‘regulation’ birdie doubled her advantage. Goadby kept racking up the pars and at at 17 another brilliant up and down from Barlow maintained the momentum of the round. Having short-sided herself with her approach, she played the most delicate little flop shot with her 60 degree wedge and managed to put it to three feet to set up another critical par.
However, as the leader made her way to the final hole, she didn’t know the state of play.
“As we were stood on the 18th tee, I had no idea what was happening elsewhere although we could see someone looking in the gorse but couldn’t work out who it was.”
The player in trouble was Goadby and her double bogey at the last would mean the Suffolk star had a four-shot lead walking down 18. With her playing partner Teasdale have bogeyed 17, she had effectively dropped out of the running.
Barlow added: “After I hit my second shot my dad had a look at the scoreboard so I knew I had a four-shot lead.”
The surprise news was especially welcome with the leader having put her second into a pot bunker but she showed considerable skill to splash to a foot and tap-in for a final round 73 (-1).
There was also a team event run concurrently, with the best two out of three scores counting each day. England, inspired by a superb closing 69 from Curtis Cup squad member Lottie Woad (Farnham), finished 15 clear of Scotland. Olivia Lee (Gerrards Cross) and Ellen Yates (West Hill) were also part of the winning side alongside last year’s individual champion.