The Curtis Cup players will represent the English Ladies’ Golf Association in the 54-hole Ladies’ European Tour event – and both are aiming high.
Naomi (top left), the 24-year-old English champion who lives in Scarborough and plays at Ganton, is looking well past the 36-hole cut. “You’ve got to take it one step at a time but my main aim is to make the cut. Hopefully then I can go on and do well – and who knows, maybe win.”
Melissa (bottom right), who lives in Derby and plays at Chevin, is the 19-year-old Scottish strokeplay champion and St Rule Trophy winner. She played in last year’s event – and is determined to improve on her 12th place.
It still rankles with her that she was fourth after 36 holes and fell away in the final round. “It’s all good experience but I’m not here just for that,” she said. “Just because I’m an amateur I don’t see why I should settle for making the cut or finishing in the top ten. I’m here to win a tournament.”
Both golfers hope to turn professional at the end of the 2008 season and both are in fine form. They were part of the GB team which won the Commonwealth Tournament earlier this season and they’re both in the GB&I side for the Vagliano Trophy matches against the Continent of Europe.
They’re fresh from a Vagliano Trophy training weekend where they worked with coach Lawrence Farmer and it’s boosted their confidence.
Naomi remarked: “Lawrence has given me a couple of things to be working on for this week – and it should be good.” Melissa added: “We’ve worked on the type of shots we’ll need for Chart Hills so I feel well prepared.”
Other amateurs in the field for the Ladies English Open include Kent 16-year-old Sarah Tyson, from the London, who won every major south-eastern title in 2006. Like Naomi and Melissa, Sarah is a member of an ELGA training squad.
Their professional opposition includes England’s Laura Davies who has been number one on the Ladies European Tour seven times. Yorkshire’s Rebecca Hudson and Tour rookies Felicity Johnson from Warwickshire, Kiran Matharu from Yorkshire and Sophie Walker from Lincolnshire are all in the field.
Kent’s Karen Stupples, who won the 2004 Women’s British Open, will take on a new role as “mum on tour” when she returns to competitive action after giving birth to her first son, Logan, in April. Karen comes from Deal but is now based in Florida.
“I am really excited to be playing in the Ladies English Open. I think it’s the perfect way to start my career as a new mum on tour,” said Karen. “The fact that it is so close to home will make it a fantastic week. Being able to see family and friends will make it all the more special although I think they will want to see Logan more than me .”
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A Gutsy performance from both sides