Saturday, May 22, 2004



Anne Laing, the only Scot in the Great Britain & Ireland team for next month's Curtis Cup match, will go to Formby as Scottish women's amateur golf champion for the third time since 1996.
In her fifth final over these eight years, the 29-year-old Vale of Leven Golf Club member, who is a sports studies lecturer at Elmwood College, Cupar, beat 21-year-old Strathclyde University student Clare Queen, a Drumpellier G C member, by two holes over the Prestwick Golf Club links.
It was a championship match of rare quality, the players responding to near-calm conditions, brilliant sunshine and a big gallery to play pretty close to their best.
Defending champion Anne had an eagle and four birdies while Clare's contribution to a glorious advertisement for female amateur golf had a bag of four birdies.
"That was the best game of match-play I've ever played, considering that I played well and so did Clare. Sometimes match-play finals are a bit of an anti-climax for everybody but this was quite a match," said Anne, a career-amateur who will never turn professional.
"Of course I'm disappointed at not winning but I was lucky to get as far as the final when you remember that I had to come through a play-off to to get into the match play and then I was two down with four to play against Lynn Kenny - and won that, and also scrambled through at the 19th against Jenna Wilson," said Clare whose figures were good enough to win more championship finals that they would lose.
"Yes, I played well and I'm glad of that. This was the first time I've played in the championship and I'm not turning pro. I'll be back in this championship - and maybe I'll be able to go one better soon."
When Anne Laing jumped into a three-hole lead by winning the fifth with a par, the eighth with an eagle 3, when she pitched in from 30yd, and the long ninth with a two-putt birdie, there was always the danger that she might have broken her younger opponent's resistance.
Not a bit of it! Clare showed she was made of the right stuff by hitting back immediately with winning birdies at the 10th and the 11th.
Miss Queen's rally faltered momentarily when she bunkered her second to lose the 12th to go two down again but she gritted her teeth and promptly birdied the long fifth with two big hits on to the green and the 14th after an approach shot to within 7ft of the flag.
That was the high point for Clare. Both players, who had hit just about every fairway until then, suddenly had bad tee shots at the 15th but Anne was able to win the hole with a bogey 5 to get her nose in front again.
Anne, raising her game in the style of a true champion, drove the green at the 245yd 16th and two-putted for yet another birdie to go two up with two to play.
Clare Queen was not finished yet. She hit an excellent approach at the blind 17th to cut the deficit to one but when Anne hit another corker of a drive almost pin high at the last hole (242yd), the writing was on the wall for Clare. She was on the green but still 30yd short of the hole and left her approach putt short before conceding Anne a birdie 3 for the match.
Anne Laing (Vale of Leven) beat Clare Queen (Strathclyde University) by 2 holes.