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Monday, September 07, 2009

Over-50s' major at Pyle & Kenfig from September 15-17



Ireland’s Valerie Hassett (1996), Sweden’s Christina Birke (2003), and Canada’s Diane Williams (1995) and Alison Murdoch (2007) know better than most what it will take to win this year’s Senior Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship at Pyle & Kenfig Golf Club on the South Wales coast from September 15 to 17.
They have all held the championship trophy aloft in their triumphant years.
Last year’s winner, Chris Utermarck (Germany), and the player she beat in a play-off for the title, Susan Dye (Delamere Forest), at Hilton Templepatrick in Northern Ireland , are absentees this time round.
That will boost the hopes Janet Melville (Sherwood Forest), who played under the name of Janet Collingham last year, Lorna Bennett (Ladybank), Jane Rees (Hendon), Fiona de Vries (St Rule), Vicki Thomas (Carmarthen) and Viveca Hoff (Sweden) who filled the next six positions on the final leaderboard 12 months ago.
Melville, Bennett and Thomas are jointly the lowest handicapped players in the field. All had an actual handicap of 0.3 when they submitted their entries.
Handicaps, of course, are immaterial in a 54-hole stroke-play championship in which only the gross scores count but they do give a rough guide to the players who are likely to be in contention for the Clark Trophy which was presented by Miss Linda Clark to the LGU for annual competition.
After all, a player’s handicap rating reflects, or should reflect, her potential average score per round.
Janet Melville, like Lorna Bennett and Jane Rees finished only one stroke behind the play-off participants last year and they would not be human if they had not replayed their three rounds – in thought if not in reality – over and over again to see where they might have saved at least one shot here, or another shot there that would have promoted them from runners-up.
Melville was a rookie senior last year after a stellar amateur career which just about makes her the favourite on paper to land the major over-50s prize this year.
Janet Collingham, as she was then, beat Sue Shapcott at the 19th in the final of the 1987 Ladies British open amateur championship. And she has represented England at all age levels of amateur golf: girls, ladies and now seniors.
She was probably unlucky never to have gained Curtis Cup honours – 1987 being a Vagliano Trophy year, and she played in the GB&I Vagliano Trophy teams of 1979 and 1987as well as Great Britain ’s Commonwealth Trophy team of 1987.
She was a member of England ’s women’s home internationals line-up, on and off, between 1978 and 1992, which is quite a long time to be regarded as one of your country’s top eight players.
Last year, her first in the over-50s competitions, saw Janet Melville, as she is now known, win the English senior stroke-play title and, as we have said above, be officially placed third in the Senior Ladies British open amateur championship.
Lorna Bennett, from Ladybank Golf Club in Fife , has a leading competitor in Scottish senior’ tournaments since she turned 50. She won her native seniors’ match-play title in 2007 and 2008, beating Fiona de Vries (St Rule) at the 20th in last year’s final.
De Vries also won the Scottish Veteran Ladies Championship last year.
Jane Rees and Vicki Thomas are two of the leading Welsh seniors. Details of Vicki’s record as an amateur could fill a book – She played with distinction in every Curtis Cup match from 1982 to 1992 inclusive and won the Welsh championship eight times between 1979 and 1991. Jane won the Welsh seniors stroke-play title two years ago and her native seniors championship in 2008.
The leading overseas player is expected to be Alison Murdoch from Victoria Golf Club, Vancouver. Winner of the Seniors Ladies British’ amateur championship in 2007, Alison has also won the Canadian senior women’s title five teams and two years ago she crossed the Atlantic to win not only the “British” but also the Irish senior women’s open amateur title – her third success in the Irish tournament over a four-year span.
From the Continent, expect to see another prominent display from Viveca Hoff ( Sweden ) who was runner-up in this championship in 2005 and 2006 and, earlier this summer she came third in the European senior women’s championship in Greece .
And the German team who were surprise winners of the European senior women’s team championship at Dun Laoghaire in Ireland last week will be looking to carry on the good work as individuals at Pyle & Kenfig.
Competitors will be play 18 holes on each of the first two days. The lowest 40 and ties at the end of two rounds will play a further 18 holes on the Thursday.