Kashiwabara wins 2012 Junior Open

Asuka Kashiwabara, a 16-year-old from Miyazaki, Japan, scored a historic win today in the 10th Junior Open golf championship at Fairhaven Golf Club, Lytham St Annes. 

Asuka is only the second girl to win the Junior Open. Her astonishing winning margin of 14 strokes at the end of 54 holes is also a record for the tournament contested by boys and girls, under the age of 16, from around the world. 

A total of 68 nations made up the field at this year's event - and Asuka outclassed them with scoring that would have done credit to a professional, let alone a one-handicapper girl! 

Asuka broke the women's course record with a first-round 66 (eight under par) and she followed that with three more sub-par rounds of 69 and 71 for grand total, a really grand total of 16 under par 206. Speaking through an interpreter, Miss Kashiwabara, making her first visit to Europe, said she had enjoyed the course, the tournament and she did not mind the weather. 

She tried not to think about the rain which marred the first two days of the event and caused a suspension of play on Tuesday, which meant the second round did not finish until this morning. This also meant that instead of the leading 80 and ties after 36 holes qualifying for the final round, there was time only for the leading 33 players to contest the final 18 holes. 

In her winner's speech, written in English for her by a Japanese Golf Association committee member, Asuka, speaking in English, jokingly told the boys that they must practise harder. The secret of her success was undoubtedly her game plan to keep her driver in her bag and stay out of the long and wet rough by using a three-wood off the tee. 

She played the first 36 holes bogey free but used a driver twice in her final round and it cost her the only two bogeys she had this week. Over the three rounds, Asuka had one eagle, 16 birdies and two bogeys. 

Runner-up, defeated by 14 shots, was Italy's Renato Paratore from Rome with scores of 75, 72 and 73 for two-under-par 222. 

Third was England's Gabriella Cowley of the West Essex club. Gabriella started the day in second place but had double bogeys at three holes in succession - the third, fourth and fifth in reaching the turn in six-over 42. She came back in two-under 36 with birdies at the 10th, 11th and 18th, set against bogey at the 14th, for a round of four-over 78. Her earlier scores were 74 and 72. 

"I'm disappointed with my last round and those double bogeys but I played better over the last nine holes," said Gabriella who is the Scottish Under-16 girls open champion and also holder of the English Under-15s title. "But, overall, I enjoyed the tournament very much. It was a great experience."