Tuesday, November 22, 2011


AMY BOULDEN in pole position in girls' championship at Abu Dhabi (image by Cal Carson Golf Agency).

By Rod Gilmour in Abu Dhabi
Amy Boulden, who last year became one of the youngest players to qualify for the Women’s British Open at Carnoustie, hit the first tee shot of the day before topping the girls’ leaderboard by two shots after a fine opening 69 in the Abu Dhabi Junior Championship.
Boulden’s group took only four hours to race through 18 holes in searing temperatures at the Abu Dhabi National. And for much of the day Llandudno-born Boulden outshone many of the boys until Jimmy Mullen, playing in the last boys’ group of the day, birdied the 18th to match the Welsh teenager at three under par in the boys' event.
She looked at ease throughout, perhaps aided by the fact that her sister Kim works at the course in a golf teaching post. The 18-year-old Amy came out to the UAE to train for two months in January and February and her hard work certainly paid off.
Lauren Taylor (Woburn), the youngest ever winner of the British women's open amateur championship at Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland last June, carded a 71 to lie second.
Boulden, whose father works as a golf pro at Maesdu GC, Llandudno in North Wales, bogeyed the first “from nowhere” but steadied her nerve from the fifth onwards to fire three birdies in seven holes.
“My pitching let me down today which was disappointing,” she admitted afterwards. “But I’ve been going through some swing changes [like many of the competing juniors at this time of year] so hopefully I can remain consistent this week.”
Mullen’s only blemish, meanwhile, came courtesy of a double bogey on the par four 14th. He was in good company, though, as the hole proved the most difficult of the day following two sevens from the girls.
At that hole, Mullen, who seemed to be in aggressive mood throughout his round, found water on the right, subsequently tried playing from the mud before “piling it into a bunker”. He hit the face of the trap and two-putted but maintained his composure to finish with a birdie for a fine 69.
The lanky two handicapper said confidently: “The wind was swirling the whole time and it was hard to guess. But I have been playing well this week and now have a great chance. If I carry on playing like I did today then I don’t think anyone will catch me.”
The 17-year-old, who plays at Royal North Devon, leads by one from Daniel Hendry. The Scot resides in the United Arab Emirates and came into the tournament on the back of a local tournament win at the weekend. Hendry led for most of the day, too, until Mullen’s last hole exploits.
Heswall’s Oliver Carr, one of the favourites this week, lies a further shot back following a composed 71.
Despite a flurry of nervous faces on the first tee yesterday, Jack Singh Brar, who turned 15 last Friday and is the youngest player in both fields, looked unfazed. The Hampshire junior hit a booming opening drive before finishing with a 77. “I just couldn’t hole the putts today,” he said. He’s still to one to watch whatever happens this week.
Mullen’s county team-mate Oliver Walsh found conditions tough going and carded 13 over par. “Well, that didn’t go quite according to plan,” said the Thurlston member. He blamed himself for not drinking enough water. But that’s all part of the experience that this tournament yields.
This year’s competition, supported by The Daukt Telegraph, is rightly seen as one of the strongest ever fields, in an event which was first staged in 1985 at the Belfry.
Eight boys and four girls arrived here with handicaps of plus-two or better and a wealth of international experience. Such is the talent, it’s hard to predict which two will walk away as champions.

Par 72
69 Amy Boulden (Maesdu).
71 Lauren Taylor (Woburn).
74 Hayley Davis (Ferndown and Baylor University, Texas).
75 Elizabeth Stebbings (Wilpshire), Samantha Giles (St Mellion), Brogan Townend (Pleasington), Rachel Walker (Dumfries and Co)
77 Meghan MacLaren (Wellingborough).
78 Lesley Atkins (Gullane Ladies).

Par 72
69 Jimmy Mullen (Royal North Devon).
70 Daniel Hendry (Scotland/United Arab Emirates).
71 Oliver Carr (Heswall)
74 Harrison Greenberry (Exeter), Paul Kinnear (Sefton).
76 Alex Gleeson (Castle, Co Sligo).
77 James Newton (Cheshire), Luke Fitzpatrick (Mill Green), Jack Singh Brar (Bramshaw).
78 Ben Anderson (Belton Park)
80 William Pennington (Heswall).
85 Oliver Walsh (Thurlestone).

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