KirkwoodGolf: Third place finish still a great effort by Aboyne 15-y-o

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Third place finish still a great effort by Aboyne 15-y-o

Colin Farquharson
Olivia Mehaffey overtakes Shannon

 McWilliam over closing holes

     "Helen Holm" 2015 left to right 2-1-3: Anais Meysonnier, Olivia Mehaffey and Shannon McWilliam

                                       with a few additional words by Colin Farquharson 
Northern Ireland’s Olivia Mahaffey. 17. claimed the Helen Holm Scottish women's open stroke-play championship with a final round of three-over-par 75 at Royal Troon for a four-over aggregate of 220, but Aboyne's 15-year-old Shannon McWlliam did herself proud with a third place finish on a wild and windy day on the Ayrshire coast.
McWilliam, one behind overnight after rounds of 71 and 72 over Troon Portland, moved in front after birdies at the fifth and sixth and she was still one ahead playing the 15th.
 But the tough finish took its toll and three bogeys in a row from the 15th saw her finish with a 79 for six-over-par 222.
Winner of the Scottish Champion of Champions at Glasgow Gailes  in March and second (behind Hollie Muse) in the SLGA Under-16 girls' open stroke-play at Strathmore at Strathmore and joint third (behind Olivia Mehaffey) in the Irish Under-18 girls' open at Roganstown a week or so earlier, it has been a remarkable few weeks for the Aboyne golfer who last year became Aberdeenshire's youngest ever women's county champion. She also won the county girls title last season and captured the Paul Lawrie Scottish schoolgirls championship after a play-off at Murrayshall.
The three days at Troon were even more impressive considering McWilliam had never seen the courses and hadn’t taken time out for a practice round.
“I didn’t want to take time off school,” said the Aboyne Academy fourth year pupil. “We just drove down on Friday morning and it was the first time I had seen either of the courses. 
“At that stage, I never thought I would finish third. But now I am a wee bit disappointed. But it was the strongest wind I have ever encountered.”  
Mahaffey, an Irish women's international and a GB and I Junior Vagliano Trophy Under-16 years team player at Chantilly in 2013, who had won the Irish U18 girls' title for the third successive year the previous weekend, admitted that it had been a tough final round and patience was the key. Olivia is pictured above with Ireland team-mate Chloe Ryan. They won the international team event for the Ladies Club Salver. Mehaffey also won the Under-18s' trophy.
With a bag of four birdies - fifth, sixth, 12th and 14th, Olivia hit the front for the first time when she parred the 16th and 17th, finishing on four over par 220, with French 18-year-old Anais Meyssonnier in second place on 221 after a 78 and McWilliam on 222. 
Meysonnier was the likely winner until she double bogeyed the15th.
“The last six holes were brutal,” said Mahaffey, from Royal County Down Golf Club at Newcastle, Northern Ireland.  “But I am delighted. This is my first victory in a women's international event, definitely the best thing I’ve won so far. 
“In the autumn, I am going to Arizona State University and , eventually, I want to turn professional.”
Mehaffey finished well ahead of the Irish champion Mary Doyle and has put herself in the running for a place in the GB and I team to play the Continent of Europe in the Vagliano Trophy women's international match at Malone Golf Club, Belfast in June.
Linnea Strom, the World No 3 female amateur from Sweden who led by one going into the final round, had an 82, including 45 shots for Royal Troon's inward half, and tied for fourth place on 224.
McWilliam had raised hopes of becoming the first home winner since Heather Stirling in 2002 – but the wait goes on for another year
But a spin-off for Shannon from this splendid performance will surely be a place in the GB and I Junior Vagliano Trophy team of six  to play the Continent of Europe Under-16s at Malone Golf Club, Belfast in June.  
A place in the Scotland team at the women's home internationals at Royal Wimbledon GC from September 11 to 13 is also very much on the cards with many of the leading Scots back at their US universities by that time.