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Golf - 06. August 2011.

Charley Hull wins English strokeplay championship on 13-under par

Woburn’s Charley Hull scored six-under par 67 in the final round of the English strokeplay championship at Alwoodley, Leeds, to win by four shots. She was 13-under par for the 72-hole event which is sponsored by Tourism Ireland.

She overtook long-time leader Charlotte Wild of Cheshire, who played the last round in level par and was nine-under for the tournament. Kelly Tidy of Royal Birkdale was third on three-under.

Charley, at the age of 15, is probably the youngest-ever winner of the Gourlay Trophy and she also won the U18, U21 and U23 titles. But she says: “I’m not bothered about being the youngest, I just love playing golf and I want to win everything.”

She’s making a good fist of it! This is her third major win of the year, following successes on the US Orange Blossom Tour and in the Welsh open strokeplay championship. Her next target is the British strokeplay at Royal Ashdown Forest later this month.

Charley came into this event with great determination. Last year she was leading going into the final day’s play, but finished third. “I’m really happy to win,” she said. “I just seemed focussed. I just go out there and do my business.”

At the start of today’s final 36 holes, Charley was one stroke behind Charlotte Wild, while the rest of the field were four shots further back. In the third round, played in a persistent downpour, Charlotte scored one-under 72 and extended her lead to two shots. Charley, in turn, was round in level par and was six shots ahead of Kelly Tidy (Royal Birkdale) and Charlotte Ellis (Minchinhampton).

As the fourth round got underway, Charlotte moved three ahead after she played a beautiful shot into the second green which finished within 2ft of the hole. Charley narrowed the gap with birdies on the fourth and fifth but bogeyed the short seventh where she bunkered her tee shot.

However, she eagled the par five eighth, where she hit a wonderful five-iron over 200 yards to within feet of the hole. Charlotte parred the hole and the two players were on level terms.

Charley again slipped one behind when she bogeyed the 10th but she played the remaining eight holes in five under par. Her first birdie on the back nine was on the short 11th where Charlotte had a horribly difficult, curving first putt which kissed the hole but then rolled several feet past. Her return missed and her bogey   meant there was a two-shot swing between the players, with Charley taking the lead.

After that, she rolled in putt after putt, with more birdies on 12, 14, 16 and 18. Afterwards, she explained that she’d been helped by playing final qualifying for the Ricoh Women’s British Open. “I was thinking about how the pros hit the greens in regulation and, when they have to putt, they go for it.”

Charlotte, meanwhile, refused to give up. She holed some testing putts for par to stay in touch on the back nine and narrowed the gap to two shots with a birdie on 15. Both players birdied the 16th but on the 17th Charlotte had to play her second from an awkward lie on the downslope into a bunker. Her shot found a heathery lie short of the green and she ended up by dropping a shot. It meant Charley went to the last tee with three shots in hand and she duly hit the last in two and two-putted for her final birdie of the round.

Charley usually plays without a caddy but today she had her father, Dave, on the bag, because of the weather. “He kept things dry this morning and he doesn’t mind getting wet! Conditions were hard today, it rained in the morning and in the afternoon it was windy. It was the hardest day of the week.”

The U23 County Team Trophy was won by Cheshire, represented by Charlotte Wild (Mere) and Rachael Goodall (Heswall).
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