Leonie Harm made history at Hillside today as she became the first German to lift the Ladies Amateur Championship trophy.
She defeated American Stephanie Lau 3&2 to win the 18-hole final in hot and sunny conditions at Southport and book a spot in the starting field of the RICOH Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes in August.
As a result of her victory she also gains exemptions into the 2018 Evian Championship, next year’s US Women’s Open, and the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship in 2019.
The 20-year-old from Stuttgart, who is ranked 33rd in the World Amateur Golf RankingTM, arrived late at the championship and previously admitted she felt under prepared for the week.
Those concerns were unfounded, however, as she defeated Canada’s Jaclyn Lee 4&3 in her morning semi-final tie to progress to the afternoon’s final. In the other semi-final, Lau saw off home favourite Holly Muse by 5&4 to secure her own place in the final.
Harm, who won the German International Amateur earlier this month, was never behind in the match as she kept her cool to play a steady round of golf, which gave her the edge on Lau. The German was handed the lead when her opponent bogeyed the third and her lead was extended at the 4th when Lau missed another putt for par.
Harm’s initial advantage was short-lived after Lau bounced back to produce back-to-back birdies at the 5th and 6th holes. Playing steady par golf, Harm regained her 2-hole lead at the halfway point with Lau chalking up further bogeys at the 7th and 9th. The 21-year-old found herself in the lead heading into the back nine without yet making a birdie.
That was to change as the clinical Harm went 3up at the 10th. The pair both birdied the next as Lau struggled to find a weakness in the German’s game. The trophy was in clear sight and, despite dropping a hole at the par-4 15th, the win was never in doubt as the 20-year-old University of Houston student rolled in an eight foot putt for par at the 16th to pounce on another Lau bogey and win the match 3&2.
Harm thrilled with victory
“I’m thrilled to be the champion of course, everyone loves to win," said Harm. “I love when I can rely on my game, when my strengths are actually my strengths and I’ve hit my iron shots close all week. So, I’m content with myself."
On the chance to play at the RICOH Women's British Open Harm said, “It’s a cool opportunity, I’m really excited. I’ll see if I can arrange it with my coach because I have something else scheduled but obviously the RICOH is the priority for me."
Runner-up Lau was positive in defeat, "The fact that I could just stick in there and get to the 16th was good. I’m proud of myself and I’ve taken a lot from this experience so I’m happy."
144 elite women’s amateur golfers from 24 countries across Europe, Asia-Pacific arrived at the Southport course on Monday to take part in the first stage of the Championship which saw each player compete in two rounds of 18-hole stroke play. The 64 lowest scores over the 36 progressed to the match play stage.
The 116th Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship will be played at Royal County Down from 11-15 June 2019.