“This is huge for me,” said 17-year-old Hannah. “I can’t believe it and I don’t think it will sink in for about two days!”
She continues a recent trend of teenage winners of the English championship, following Felicity Johnson, who was 18 when she took the title in 2005, and Kiran Matharu who was also 17 in 2006. Both are now professionals on the Ladies European Tour.
Hannah, who plays at Knowle Golf Club, had to defeat two Curtis Cup team members in two days during her title campaign. She faced Liz Bennett (Brokenhurst Manor) in the quarter-finals before moving on to play Florentyna in a closely-fought final.
“I thought I could win and my coach said I was capable – but believing it is one thing and doing it is another,” said Hannah. “Anything can happen in matchplay.”
She started a little tentatively and lost the first hole of the final after going into a fairway bunker. It was the first time she had been down in the matchplay stages of the championship and, as she said: “It was a new experience. I’ve been in finals before but nothing like this so I was a bit edgy to begin with.”
Florentyna birdied the 3rd, with a delicate chip and putt, to move to two up. But the Royal Birkdale player found trouble behind the next green and also lost the seventh after her second shot finished in a greenside bunker.
However, Florentyna moved back into the lead with a textbook par on the short 10th. Hannah’s tee shot had finished in short fluffy rough beside a bunker and although she chipped well, the putt slid past the hole.
The Gloucestershire player came straight back, though, with an excellent putt for a birdie three on the 11th which squared the match. She then moved into the lead for the first time with a steady par on the 12th, where Florentyna dropped a shot after driving into the trees on the right.
“When I went one up I told myself to hold on to it. I really like the last few holes and I knew I could play them well,” said Hannah, whose father, Nick, caddied for her.
Florentyna, meanwhile, was fighting hard – and never more so than on the 16th. She was still one down and her tee shot finished in deep, deep rough on the left of the hole and she had to take a penalty drop. From there, with trees and a bunker between her and the putting surface, she played a superb shot into the heart of the green with a 19 degree rescue club. But it was to no avail when Hannah holed for a birdie three and a two-up lead.
On the par three 17th, Hannah displayed rock-solid nerves with an excellent two-putt across the sloping green. It gave her a half on the hole – and the title.
Now, Hannah is setting her sights on a championship double. “I’m still only 17 so I’ll be playing in the English girls’ – I’ll have to try and take that as well!”
She is also the English schools’ champion and a past winner of the English girls’ U15 title.