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Thursday, June 12, 2008


Confident Carly Booth, only 15 years old, led nine Scots into the knock-out stages of the British women's open amateur golf championship at North Berwick today.
The others who are back in action on Friday morning are Roseanne Niven (Crieff), Pamela Pretswell (Bothwell Castle), Krystle Caithness (St Regulus), Kylie Walker (Buchanan Castle), Kelsey MacDonald (Nairn Dunbar), Emily Ogilvy (Auchterarder), Lesley Nicholson (Haddington) and Michele Thomson (McDonald Ellon).
But there was big disappointment for Rachael Livingstone (Musselburgh Old) and former Scottish champion Martine Pow (Selkirk) who looked set to be involved in a "monster" play-off 11 players on 155 for the last of the 64 qualifying spots ... until in the last threesome to finish, Hannah Ralph (Cowdray Park) followed up an 81 with an out of the blue 72 for a 153 total to grab the last place and do away with the need for a play-off.
Nobody can remember when a "British" play-off at the end of the qualifying was not needed!
No consolation to Rachael who matched the par of 72, improving by 11 shots on her opening effort. Marine had scores of 78 and 77.
Alford's Laura Murray missed out on 157 after returning an 80 which included three double bogeys on the inward half.
Carly Booth – Britain’s youngest-ever Curtis Cup player – came in with a sparkling second round of 70 – six shots better than her opening day effort at North Berwick – for a total of two-over-par 146.
That gave her a highly creditable joint seventh place behind the No 1 seed Caroline Hedwall from Sweden who scored 68 and 72 for 140.
As mentioned earlier, no play-off was necessary to produce the precise figure of 64 qualifiers. That was the number with two-round scores of 10-over-par 154 or better after a French girl, Morgane Bazin de Jessey, who would have made it on 152, was disqualified for playing on with a putter she had bent out of shape by kicking it in a flash of temper.
Carly, pulling out the biggest gallery of the day, responded to being the centre of attention with a typical performance and a grandstand finish. She smashed her final not only on to the green at the 273yd closing hole but her ball came to rest only two inches away from a hole in one. An eagle 2 was a great way to send her fans home happy. Earlier Carly had birdied the third, fifth and ninth but her run of sub-par figures had dried up after the turn until that sensational finish.
Booth also three-putted the short fourth for a bogey and missed the green at the 13th for her only other dropped shot.
"I'm enjoying myself and feeling very positive," said Carly who failed to reached the match-play stages at Alwoodley, Leeds last year.
California university student Roseanne Niven, 19, from Crieff, repeated Booth’s finish with an eagle 2 for a 71 and 149. It was Roseanne's best tournament round for some time. She bogeyed the first but then had a great run of birdies at the third, fifth and eighth to turn in two-under-par 35.
She dropped a shot at the short 10th but cancelled that out with a birdie 4 at the long 11th before slipping back a bit with bogeyes at the 12th, 15th and 16th before her eagle 2 finish.
Scottish universities champion Pamela Pretswell improved by three shots for a 74 and 151 to be the third highest Scot among the list of qualifiers. A good effort by Pamela who was unable to play in the "Scottish" at Lossiemouth because of universitiy studies.
Curtis Cup player Krystle Caithness also made the 151 mark with a second-round 74 which had very little deviation from par after she bogeyed the first. Between the second and the 15th holes, the Fifer had a birdie at the long ninth and the rest were all pars.
She did bogey the 16th and 17th in two-over-par 37 home.
Emily Ogilvy, St Rule Trophy winner Kylie Walker and teenager Kelsey MacDonald all qualified on 152.
Like Carly and Roseanne, big-hitting Kylie signed off with an eagle 2 at the 273yd 18th hole. The Buchanan Castle player needed it to finish with a smile as she had just bogeyed the 15th, double-bogeyed the 16th and bogeyed the 17th.
In an outward 38, Kylie had birdied the third and fourth.
Emily Ogilvy had five birdies in all - at the first, third, fifth, 11th and 15th in halves of 37 and 73. Her black spot in the round was a double-bogey 7 at the ninth. She also had a 7 there in the first roound.
The two Scots on 153, one shot inside the limit mark for qualifying, were Scottish champion and Curtis Cup player Michele Thomson and Haddington's Lesley Nicholson.
Michele still played some wayward shots - she salvaged a par after driving on to the beach (not out of bounds) at one of the early holes - but she birdied the fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth and 18th for a nine-shot improvement – a par-matching 72, an improvement of 11 shots.
The Ellon player's inward half of 37 included a double bogey 6 at the 16th after her first putt rolled back down the slope towards her and she took another three shots to hole out. She did birdie the last hole.
Lesley Nicholson, Scottish girls stroke-play champion and Helen Holm Scottish women's stroke play winner before she turned pro for a spell, made it with a 74 for 153 but she is not contemplating a return to the big-time amateur circuit!
"I don't think my nerves would stand it nowadays," she joked. "I missed half a dozen putts of six feet and under on the opening day. I'm only playing in the championship because it's being played so close to where I live."
Scotland's Michele Thomson, Carly Booth and Krystle Caithness finished third in the international team event with a total of 295. Sweden and Spain both finished with 286. The title went to Sweden on a comparison of the second round totals.
At the end of the second day, which was not nearly as long as was anticipated, thanks to a play-off being averted, Sweden's Caroline Hedwall earned the No 1 seeding with rounds of 68 and 72 for four-under-par 140.
But, after being well clear of the field for most of the first two days, the 19-year-old from Barseback, whose twin sister Jacqueline also qualified, was almost caught over the second round by Spain's Maria Hernandez who plays on the US college circuit as a student at Purdue University.
Maria scored 72 and 69 for 141.
Speaking of the US college circuit, Caroline Hedwall is bound for Oklahoma State University int he autumn while twin Jacqueline is to enrol at Louisana State University.
Sweden also produced the third best qualifier in Camilla Lennarth with a pair of 72s for 144.
NCAA Division 1 champion and British girls champion at Lanark a year or two back, Spain's Azahara Munoz was one of three players on 145.
Seventeen-year-old American Taylor Karle was an interesting qualifier on the one-over-par mark with scores of 75 and 70.
Having been delayed by her participation at a US Women's Open qualifier, Taylore from Scottsdale, Arizona did not arrive at North Berwick until 5pm on the eve of the championship.l She managed to squeeze in nine holes over a course she had never seen before -- Japan is the only other country she has visited outside her native America.
A student at Pepperdine University, Malibu in California, Taylore was first reserve for the United States' Curtis Cup team this year.
"I came over with my Dad to Scotland because I had heard so much about playing Scottish links golf that I just had to experience it for myself. I have not been disappointed. I just love it. The way the conditions, the direction of the wind, can change completely during a round is fantastic. I think it's great. I'm so glad I came over," said Taylore.
Sweden's Anna Nordqvist, who celebrated her 21st birthday at the beginning of the week, qualified on 146 after equalling Caroline Hedwall's 68 as the best round of the qualifying.
Anna, a former British girls champion and a 6ft 1in Arizona State University student, has lost the last two British women's championships and is hoping it is third time lucky for her.
She had a bogey-free round after hitting 15 greens in regulation.
South Africa's Tandi Cuningham (only one 'n' in her surname) shot the lowest inward half of the first two days - four-under-par 31 for a 150 total after taking 40 shots for the first nine holes. She birdied the 11th, 16th, 17th and 18th without any bogeys on the inward half.
Although Carly Booth, Breanne Loucks and Krystle Caithness made it safely though to the match-play stages, one of their Curtis Cup colleagues did not - Elizabeth Bennett (Brokenhurst Manor) who scored 78 and 77 for 155.
Like Rachael Livingstone and Martine Pow, Elizabeth was all set to go out again for an evening play-off until Hannah Ralph lowered the boom on them with her 71 for 153.

286 Sweden (better second round), Spain.
295 Scotland.
298 England.
299 Holland, Wales.
300 Austria.
303 Canada, France.
307 South Africa.
308 Ireland
309 Germany.
310 Italy
342 Finland.