Saturday, August 13, 2016

Quarter-finals win over Lily-May leaves Isobel 

Wardle looking for somewhere to stay the night


Saturday morning's Girls' British Open Amateur Championship semi-finals will feature one English 16-year-old, Isobel Wardle (Prestbury), Alessia Nobilio, a 14-year-old Italian, 15-year-old British women's champion Julia Engstrom (Sweden) and Emilie Paltrinieri, a 15-year-old from Italy.
No-one could ever accuse Isobel of counting her chickens before they hatched - her accommodation at Harlech was only booked until Thursday night because, on this her second appearance in the Under-18s championship, she did not think, at the start of the week that she would reach the last four.
"My folks and I will now have to go house-hunting," said Isobel after she won an all-English quarter-final against the English Under-16s champion, Lily-May Humphreys, a 14-year-old from Channels Golf Club, Essex. "At this moment we have nowhere to stay tonight!"
Wardle (pictured right by Cal Carson Golf Agency), from Prestbury, south of Manchester, beat last year's championship runner-up, Marta Perez Sanmartin (Spain) by 4 and 3 in the morning third-round ties and then scored a 2 and 1 win over Humphreys.
"To be fair to Lily-May," said Isobel, the eighth seed. "It was a really good match and it could have gone either way. I was never down and that was an advantage because it meant she had to chase the game all the way but she did that rather well."
Wardle was roughly level or one under par in a rising wind for the first 16 holes.
"The wind was quite strong by the time we got to the 17th tee and we both misjudged it and we both drove out of bounds. But a half in however many strokes it took was all that concerned me," said Isobel.
Wardle went one up with a par at the third and the fifth was halved in birdie 3s. She went two up with a birdie 4 at the seventh and maintained that clear-cut lead until Lily-May won the 10th and the 11th with pars to square the contest.
"I wouldn't say I was getting anxious but I knew that the next hole, the 12th, was crucial to my hopes of winning," said Isobel.
"I had to stop her run of wins and get one myself which I did with a birdie 4. That put me back into a one-hole lead and I felt a lot better after that going into the closing holes.
"We both got up and down to halve the 14th in par and we both faced 4ft putts for par. I holed mine, Lily-May missed hers and that was me two up with two to play.  Then we both drove out of bounds at the 17th but the hole was halved, leaving me the winner by 2 and 1.
"I've had a different part of my game on song each round. Earlier in the week, I drove very well. Today it was my short game and putting that carried me through.
"Win or lose on Saturday morning, this has to be my best performance at this level of the game."
Having beaten one 14-year-old, Wardle plays another in the semi-final - Alessia Nobilio from Italy, the 12th seed.
Alessia, pictured right by Cal Carson Golf Agency, knocked out the No 4 seed, Paula Neira, a 17-year-old from Spain, in the quarter-finals after beating the No 5 seed from Sweden, Beatrice Wallin, by 4 and 3 in the round of the last 16.
Nobilio's victory in itself against Neira was very good but to achieved a 7 and 5 margin against a player of that quality was remarkable. The younger player got off to a flying start anad was three up after only five holes. The sixth was halved in birdie 3s before Nobilio won the seventh and the ninth to be five up at the turn.
Neira never won a hole. Her nightmare continued with losses at the 12th and 13th finishing a one-sided match that few would have predicted.
Julia Engstrom, at 15 the youngest ever winner in the long, long history of the Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship at Dundonald Links in June and the highest rated player in the field - she is ranked No 23 in the world, remains the favourite.
She had to go to the 20th, where she won with a bogey, in her morning match against
Germany's Esther Henseleit, the 14th qualifier, but she was back in impressive form in a 5 and 4 quarter-finals win over the 11th qualifier, Sofie Nielsen, a 17-year-old from Denmark.
Engstrom, pictured left by Cal Carson Golf Agency, was one or two under par in beating Nielsen by 5 and 4. One down to a birdie at the sixth, Julia climbed into the driving seat by winning the the seventh with a par, the eighth with a par and the ninth with a par to be two up at the turn.
The 10th was halved before the Swede set off another run that would clinch her place in the last four. Engstrom won the 12th with a par to go three up, the 13th with a birdie to go four up and the 14th with a par for a 5 and 4 success.
In the semi-finals, Julia will play Emilie Paltrinieri, the 15-year-old Italian, beaten the second seed, Norway's Madelene Stavnar by 5 and 3.
Stavnar, the favourite to beat the 39th qualifier, made a good start to be two up after four but that was as good as it got for her.
Paltrinieri, pictured right by Cal Carson Golf Agency, won the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth to transform a two-hole deficit into a two-hole lead.
There was no way back for Stavnar after her opponent birdied the 11th to go three up and  went four up with a par at the 12th. Paltrinieri clinched an impressive 5 and 3 victory by winning the 15th.