Wednesday, 8 August 2012
If the results in the three most recent Girls' British Open Amateur Championships are any guide to this year's tournament at Tenby Golf Club, South Wales from August 13 to 17, it's a safe bet that French players will play a prominent part. For the past two years, France has won the Team Award Trophy, a sure sign of strength in depth of a country's entry. Individually, the record of French players in the championship has been hard to beat.
Perrine Delacour from Paris won the title when the Girls' British Open Amateur Championship for Under-18 year-olds was held at West Lancashire Golf Club in 2009. She was only 15 at the time, beating England's Elizabeth Mallett in the final.
In 2010, when the Championship moved over to Northern Ireland and was hosted by Royal Belfast Golf club, another French girl was the winner - Alexandra Bonnetti, also from Paris.
In 2011, at Gullane, the French almost pulled off a hat-trick of championship victories. Celine Boutier was beaten in the final by Belgium's Margaux Vanmol. Margaux and Celine are now too old to be in the field of 144 for Tenby but 2009 champion Perrine Delacour is there. Her form this season suggests she is playing well enough to make a bold bid for a second British Girls’ title, three years after the first.
Perrine, who won the Irish Girls' Open Stroke Play in 2011, reached the semi-finals of the Ladies British Open Amateur Championship over Carnoustie's championship links in June, having beaten English amateur champion and victorious GB and I Curtis Cup team member, Kelly Tidy, in an earlier round.
It is rare for a player to win the Girls' British Open Amateur title two years in a row and it is even rarer (in fact it has never happened) that a girl regains the Under-18s title two or three years after her first win.
The four countries who contribute the most players to the capacity entry of 144 are England, Spain, France, and Germany.
Perrine Delacour, at the time of entry, had a handicap of +4.6, making her, on paper, one of the three back markers in the field. Antonia Scherer (Germany), who has played in this championship at least twice previously, has a handicap of +4.9 while the other in the +4 category is also a German, Karolin Lampert with +4.3.
The United States has four entries and the interesting feature about Mika Liu, a member of the Concession Country Club, Sarasota, Florida, is that she had her 13th birthday only in February and at the recent United States Girls Championship she was the youngest qualifier for the match-play stages. She has a handicap of +1.8, a very low mark for one so young.
England's standard-bearer is likely to be Georgia Hall from the Remedy Oak club in Dorset. Georgia has shot up the Women's World Amateur Rankings to No 6 with a string of very good results this year. The only other Girls' British Open amateur entry in the top 20 of the women's world amateur rankings is the aforementioned Perrine Delacour at No 18.
Other entries in the top 75 of the WWAGR are Ha Rang Lee (Spain) No 33, Karolin Lampert (Germany), No 59, Antonia Scherer (Germany) No 69 and Clara Baena (Spain) No 78.
Coincidentally, Georgia and Perrine were both beaten semi-finalists in the Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship at Carnoustie in June.
Georgia Hall, a reserve for the GB and I Curtis Cup team, was earlier beaten by Kelly Tidy in a play-off for the English women's championship after they had tied at the end of 72 holes stroke-play.
Last year, Georgia, when she was only 15 years of age, reached the semi-finals of the Girls British Open Amateur Championship at Gullane.
Another English 16-year-old who has been chalking up good performances this season is Gabriella Cowley from West Essex. She won the Scottish Under-16s' open stroke-play championship in April after winning the English Under-15s' title in 2011.
This month Gabriella came third in the R&A Junior Open - at Fairhaven GC, Lancashire where only one boy finished ahead of her in a mixed field from all round the world.
The Girls’ British Open Amateur Championship starts with two stroke-play qualifying rounds - over which there is an international team event - and after 36 holes, the 64 players with the lowest aggregates go forward to the match-play stages.
Spectators are welcome.
Source: LGU Media Release