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Gloucestershire’s Sian James wins English mid-amateur championship
Gloucestershire’s Sian James won the English open mid-amateur championship at her home club, Bristol & Clifton, when she defeated Germany’s Michele Holzwarth 2/1 in the final. “I am over the moon,” said the 21-year-old, who won her first national title watched by a crowd of home club spectators and all her family: father Ian was her caddy, while mother Margaret, and brothers Steven and Mark were in the gallery.“It was tough,” said Sian. “When Michele holed a long putt to halve the third I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and she fought really hard. But it was a very good match and the support was brilliant. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”The match was excellent, with plenty of top quality golf and a great deal of determination from both players. Sian, in particular, showed great powers of recovery and twice halved holes despite having to take penalty drops from unplayable lies beside trees.
The second occasion was on the par three 17th and her cool-headed four clinched the title for her. Sian was two up when she slightly pulled her tee shot and her ball finished under a fir tree to the left of the green. She took a drop and played a superb pitch to within feet of the hole, which she sank. Michele, meanwhile, found an awkward lie in a greenside bunker and although she played out well the ball ran past the hole and she two-putted for a half.
The first nine holes of the match was textbook stuff, with the exception of the fourth, where Sian had to concede after tangling with trees and knee deep rough. Otherwise the players matched each other par for par, birdie for birdie over the first eight holes. Sian also birdied the ninth to reach the turn all square. She had a great escape on the 10th, where she also took a drop from beside a tree before pitching her next shot stone dead for a par and a half.Both players peppered the flag on the 11th but it was Sian who sank the birdie putt and moved into the lead for the first time. She also won the 12th after Michele, in her turn, encountered trees and deep rough. Sian made a very good recovery from a plugged lie in a bunker to halve the par three 13th and keep her two-up lead. She also won the 15th where local knowledge proved invaluable for tackling a scary downhill putt on a difficult green.
Michele fought back with a classy birdie on the uphill 16th but her challenge ended when the 17th was halved. “I am not disappointed,” said the 22-year-old from Berlin, who won much admiration among the spectators. She has promised to return and to bring more German players with her.Both players are students. Michele, 22, will soon start her final year at Fearleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, USA, while Sian has completed two years of a degree course in applied golf management at Birmingham University. She will be spending much of the next few weeks working alongside a PGA pro as part of her course, but with time out for pre-qualifying for the Ricoh Women’s British Open and to play in the English and British strokeplay championships. Final: Sian James (Bristol & Clifton) beat Michele Holzwarth (Germany) 2/1