● Final day charge from Darling seals win
● Last-hole disappointment for Ireland’s Beth Coulter
● Exciting finish as 90 players make history in new Under 16 event at Fulford
Scotland’s Hannah Darling holed a closing 40-foot birdie putt to seal a dramatic victory in the inaugural Girls Under 16 Open Championship at Fulford.
Ireland’s Beth Coulter had looked set for a wire-to-wire victory in York, leading by a stroke with the par-5 18th to play, only to go out of bounds after her second shot hit a tree leading to a triple bogey.
Darling had applied the pressure after a closing two-under-par round of 72, only one of two players to post under par on a breezy final day, had given her the clubhouse lead on a total of four-under-par. In challenging conditions, the 14-year-old fired four birdies in the last ten holes to make a surge up the leaderboard.
The Broomieknowe player looked on as Coulter’s hopes ended in disappointment after signing off for final round of 78 to finish two strokes back on two-under-par and land Darling another championship win to add to the three domestic titles she claimed in 2017.
Switzerland’s Elena Moosmann posted a three-over-par 77 to finish on level par in third place.
“I’m so happy,” said Darling. “All my Scottish squad is here, so to do it with them here, I couldn’t be happier. I’ve had good performances in the last few weeks but to come here and win is so good.
“I felt for Beth at the last when she went out of bounds. It’s not nice to see a competitor do that, especially one you are quite close to on the leaderboard.
“The competition has been amazing. The R&A have done an amazing job as have the Fulford Golf Club and the green staff to keep the course in such good condition. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and lowering my one handicap.”
Coulter held a two-shot lead from Finland’s Kerttu Hiltunen and Moosmann overnight but proceeded to drop four strokes in the opening seven holes to give the chasing pack hope.
But with Moosmann making back-to-back double bogeys at the 6th and the 7th in the breezy conditions and Hiltunen also struggling, Coulter stayed in control. Moosmann moved to within one of the lead after a hat-trick of birdies from the 8th but Coulter’s second eagle of the week at the par-5 11th hole appeared decisive until a pulled drive at the last led to her troubles.
Coulter said, “It was a bit of a rollercoaster all the way round. Coming down the last, I wasn’t scoreboard watching so I didn’t know how Hannah was doing. I was actually standing over the ball and said ‘don’t hit the tree and go out of bounds’ and that’s exactly what I did. It was maybe a wee bit too risky, I should have played out for par. I’ve just got to learn from it and get on with it.
“But very well done to Hannah, she deserved it, she played class today. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for me. I’ve only been playing competitively for three years, so it was a great learning experience this week. I don’t have a World Amateur Golf Ranking™ so maybe this week will help me get on there.”
Moosmann added, “I wanted to come here and play well, so a top three is good for me. It’s been a really nice week at this new event.”
There was consolation for Coulter when she claimed the prize for the Under 14 section by four strokes from Italy’s Charlotte Cattaneo. England’s Rosie Bee Kim, the youngest competitor in the field at only 10-years-old, parred the last three holes to win the Under 12 section by a stroke from Grace Crawford of Scotland. “I feel proud to win,” said Kim.
The Girls Under 16 Open Championship has been introduced as part of The R&A’s drive to boost the girls’ game in Great Britain and Ireland and beyond, as well as provide a pathway to the elite amateur level for leading young players.
Fulford will also host the Girls Under 16 Open Championship in 2019 and 2020.
Final scores from Girls Under 16 Open Championship HERE