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Friday, August 22, 2008

Two Scottish players are the Best of British!

Roseanne Niven with the championship salver after her play-off victory (Image by courtesy of Ladies Golf Union). Top right is Kylie Walker in action (image by Cal Carson Golf Agency, all rights reserved).

Roseanne beats Kylie for British title play-off

It had to be a Tartan Triumph climax to the British women's open amateur golf championship at Malone Golf Club, near Belfast today.
In a dream finish for Scottish supporters of the game, Roseanne Niven (Crieff) and Buchanan Castle's Kylie Walker produced brilliant final rounds in the 72-hole event to tie at the top of the leaderboard on level par 288.
Roseanne won the play-off at the first extra hole.
Later, Roseanne paid tribute to her coach, Karyn Dallas, the Kirriemuir Golf Club professional, for the part she has played in her development as a player.
"I must thank Karyn for her help over the past four or five years. Without her, I would not have achieved the success I am now enjoying."
Niven had set the clubhouse target earlier in the afternoon with a superb final round of four-under-par 68 - the lowest of the championship - and only her later-finishing compatriot Kylie was able to equal it with a 69, the second best score of the final round.
It was the seventh win by a Scot in the stroke-play tournament which started in 1969.
Roseanne, winning a British title for the first time, follows in the footsteps of Belle Robertson (1971-72-85), Jane Connachan (1982), Clare Queen (2004) and Heather MacRae (2005).
Niven, a 19-year-old from the Perthshire village of Tibbermore and beaten semi-finalist in the British women's open amateur championship at North Berwick in June, shot five under par for the second 36 holes of the tournament to climb up the leaderboard from joint 19th at the start of the final day.
She had a one-under-par 71 in the third round and then signed off with a 68, the lowest score so far in the championship.
In her third round, the University of California-Berkeley student had five birdies and a double bogey 6 at the 14th.
In her final circuit, Roseanne, who finished runner-up to Breanne Loucks in her last trip to Ireland for the Irish women's open amateur stroke-play, had two halves of 34.
She birdied the long second by sinking a 10ft putt and the short fourth with a 15ft birdie putt. A pitch-and-putt 4 at the long seventh gave her a third birdie of the round, to be followed by birdie No 4 at the eighth as she turned in three-under-34, her best of the three days.
A shot dropped at the 14th, where she three-putted, was her second (she bogeyed the fifth) and last bogey of a very good round. As Crieff Golf Club member Roseanne, a former Scottish girls' match-play champion, had done in the morning round, she birdied both the 16th and 17th, holing a putt of around 6ft at the 16th and pitching and putting at the penultimate hole.
Kylie Walker, who will be 22 on August 30, had a hole in one in her morning third round, acing the 15th (132yd) with an eight iron for her first competitive hole in one. She also lost a ball at the seventh, costing her a double bogey 7, in that morning 73 in which she had contrasting halves of 42 and 31,
In the fourth round Kylie had seven birdies. A 10ft putt dropped at the first and she got a two-putt 4 at the long second. But she lost a bit of momentum with bogeys at the fourth and eighth before a birdie from 3ft at the ninth put her off and running again.
The Scot holed a 10-footer to birdie the 10th and then holed a 25ft putt for a birdie at the 12th.
A bogey at the 13th was followed by a chip-in for a sixth birdie at the 14th. A shot dropped at the 16th would prove costly in the final analysis, even though she wedged to 4ft to set up her final birdie at the 17th.
Needing to squeeze an eighth birdie out of the 18th to win the title outright, Walker had to settle for a par and play-off with Roseanne Niven.
Former Curtis Cup player Tara Delaney (Carlow), twice winner of the Irish open stroke-play title shared third place with long-time leader Sahra Hassan (Vale of Glamorgan.
Carly Booth (Comrie) and Pamela Pretswell (Bothwell Castle), the only other Scots to beat the halfway cut, finished joint 27th on 13-over-par 301. Both had closing rounds of 74 and 76.
Carly had only one birdie - at the 17th - in her final round after two double bogeys in her morning round.
Pamela had a double bogey 6 at the eighth in her final round. It was her only double bogey of the four rounds.
Former Curtis Cup player Tara Delaney (Carlow), twice winner of the Irish open stroke-play title shared third place with long-time leader Sahra Hassan (Vale of Glamorgan.
Tara finished with two par-matching rounds of 72 for two-over 290. She bvirdied the second, 16th and 17th in her final round.
Sahra, joint halfway leader, had gone a shot clear with a 74 for one-over 217, but a closing round of 73 could not hold her closely-grouped challengers at bay and she finished on 290.

+For older followers of Scottish ladies' golf, the Roseanne Niven v Kylie Walker play-off brought back memories of the 1981 final of the British women's open amateur championship at Conway, where Belle Robertson beat Wilma Aitken at the 20th hole.