“This is so important to me,” said Claire, 21, from The London Club. “It’s always been my goal to win a national championship.” Her success caps a fine season in which she has already won four prestigious scratch tournaments.
Claire claimed her English title despite lacking full confidence in her game. “I’ve been struggling and I had a lesson just before I came here which helped.
“I didn’t feel 100 per cent confident in my swing but I tried not to think about. I tried to grip it as I’ve been taught and hit it.”
Claire Aitken/photo ELGA
Claire’s play looked extremely confident. She was three-under par at the end of the final in which birdies and an eagle were traded between the two players.
Claire had four birdies on the outward half, on the 4th, 5th, 6th and 9th. Jenny, the Essex champion from Braintree, had an eagle three on the 5th and birdied the eighth.
The players halved the first hole before Claire won the second to go ahead – and was never to fall behind. Over the front nine her lead fluctuated between one and two-up before Jenny – who demonstrated a sharp short game - pulled her back to all-square after the short 10th.
Claire’s response was to come straight back and she won the next two holes, where Jenny tussled with the rough on the 11th and the bunkers on the 12th.
Jenny Pease/photo ELGA
They halved the next three holes, sharing the short 15th in birdie two. The par five 16th proved to be the decider: Jenny found two fairway bunkers before reaching the green in four, while Claire was on in regulation figures after playing a delicate pitch over a bunker. Jenny made a bold attempt for her par and then conceded Claire’s putt.
Claire, who took up golf about 10 years ago and now has a handicap of plus-two, is enjoying her best-ever season of golf. So far this year she has won the Hampshire Rose, the Roehampton Gold Cup, the Crichley Salver and the Frilford Heath Scratch Salver. Her next target is the British strokeplay championship which starts at Conwy, Wales, on Wednesday.
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photo Cheltenham jockey club
photo Cheltenham Racecourse