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Saturday, June 14, 2008



Crieff Golf Club member Roseanne Niven, a 19-year-old from the village of Tibbermore near Perth and a student at the University of California-Berkeley, gained the biggest and best win of her golfing career in the evening sunshine at North Berwick.
She beat the Spanish ace, 20-year-old Azahara Munoz, winner a couple of weeks ago of the major American college golf title, the NCAA women's championship. at the 20th hole to reach the Sunday morning semi-finals of the British women's open amateur golf championship.
Niven's opponent is Anna Nordqvist, the 6ft 1in Swedish player and American college player at Arizona State University. Anna has reached the finals of the past two British championships.
No British player has won the title for six years and the tournament has been dominated by Continentat players since England's Rebecca Hudson won the championship at Ashburnham in 2002.
The first semi-final (8.30) on Sunday morning will feature the brilliant 19-year-old Hedwall twins from Barseback, Sweden - top seed Caroline and Jacqueline.
"We've only played each other once in match-play before and Caroline won - but I'm going to beat her this time," said Jacqueline.
In the morning quarter-finals, Roseanne, a former Scottish girls match-play champion, had ousted fellow Scot Pamela Pretswell (Bothwell Castle) by 2 and 1 after winning the first four holes.
Niven should have had little chance in the quarter-finals against Munoz, who won the British girls title at Lanark in 2004 and is ranked well about Roseanne in the American college circuit ratings.
But Roseanne played the match of her life. She went two down early but her head didn't go down and she cut the lead to one with a birdie 4 at the long eighhth.
Niven's purple patch that gave her the confidence to put Munoz under severe pressure started at the 12th where the Scot squared the match with a par.
The Spaniard bounced back into a one-hole lead by winning the 13th but Roseanne was not to be denied.
She won the 14th and 15th to lead for the first time in the epic encounter which was followed by the biggest gallery since Carly Booth made her exit on Friday afternoon.
Azahara was not done with yet either. She squared the tie by winning the 16th and the ding-dong struggle continued to sway one way, then the other.
Niven won the 17th to be one up but her Spanish opponent got a pitch and putt birdie, holing from 7ft, for a birdie 3 at the last to square the contest.
Before the players reached the first tee second time round, the LGU officials sounded the klaxon to pull all the remaining matches off the course due to a warning of lightning in the area.
It was another 45 minues before the Niven v Munoz tie could resume as the circling thunder clouds moved on. The 19th was halved after Niven played a splendid approach to 5ft but could not hole the putt. But a famous Scottish victory was only delayed. At the 20th, Rosie, as she is known by her friends, sank at 15ft putt for a birdie to be the only British player in the last four.
Niven's semi-final opponent, Anna Nordqvist won her quarter-final by 4 and 2 against the No 2 seed, Maria Hernandez from the bull-run Spanish city of Pampolona and another leading US college circuit player from Purdue University.
Maria had been five under par in her third-round win but Anna, the No 7 qualifier, is well used to the pressure-cooker tension of the closing stages of the "British" and she kept a tight rein on this match, going one up after seven and three up after 14.
The Hedwall twins are making their debut in the championship but they are from the upper bracket of Continental female amateur golf. Both played in the winning European Junior Solheim Cup team last year and Caroline's handicap of +5.4 makes her one of the highest-rated amateurs in the world, not just Europe.
But Caroline admitted she was made to work hard by French-Canadian Maude-Aimee Leblanc before securing a two-hole win in the first quarter-final to finish.
The 6ft Quebec player went one up when Caroline three-putted the 15th but then Maude-Aimee seemed to crack under pressure.
She lost the 16th, 17th and 18th to hand the "older by 45min" Hedwall twin victory on a plate.
The Canadia four-putted the 17th to go one down for the first time since the seventh and then made a mess of the last hole, driving over the green and then foolishly trying to putt up the slope to the plateau green. The ball rolled back to her and her second attempt was far too strong. She conceded the hole and victory to Caroline Hedwall who had played only two shots.
Jacqueline Hedwall's tie against Valentine Derrey from Paris was the last to finish after the lightning-warm play suspension. Jacqueline won it by two holes after seemingly heading for a big win at a much earlier time.
The French girl, beaten finalist in the British girls at Lanark in 2004, was four down after 10 holes but then won the 12th, 13th and 15 to cut her deficit to one. A series of nervy halves, with Jacqueline Hedwall holing vital knee-knocking 5ft putts at the 17th and 18th for a one-hole win.