Elin Esborn produced a fine round of 70 in the searing heat of Southport to finish as leading qualifier for the match play stage of the 115th Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship at Hillside.
The Swede was joined at the top on one-under-par by Esther Henseleit and Elodie Chapelet but will take the honours on countback.
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 sees each player compete in two rounds of 18 hole stroke play. The 64 lowest scores over the 36 progress to the match play stage.
Competition really starts tomorrow
Esborn, who attends the University of Florida in the United States, came into the event on the back of two top-five finishes on the college golf circuit. The 21-year-old was on a roll after carding six birdies after 13 holes. At six-under-par for the day, she ran into trouble at the par-5 17th to sign for a triple-bogey 8 and followed that with another bogey on the final hole. It was enough to see her lead the pack with no one making a move in the afternoon.
“I feel like the competition restarts tomorrow. It’s going to be fun to play match play," said Esborn. "At the 17th I had a triple and at the 18th I had a bogey. I didn’t really commit to my shots and recorded a high score but I’m pretty happy with my round."
On the opportunity to play links golf Esborn added, “I don’t play a lot of links golf so that first of all is a big thing. It’s a great event."
Greatest tournament in Europe
Henseleit, 39th in the World Amateur Golf RankingTM, relied on her first round score of 70 to keep her near the top as stroke play qualifying reached its conclusion. The German, who recorded a top five finish at the Spanish Ladies Amateur Championship in March, made four bogeys and three birdies for a one-over-par 73 and a combined 36-hole score of 143.
“I’m really happy that I played that well out there the past two days, I’m really happy with my game. I’ve been making a lot of putts, making birdies and I feel quite comfortable going into the match play. I hope I will continue to play well," said Henseleit of her golf over the first two rounds.
“I think this is one of the biggest and greatest tournaments in Europe," admitted Henseliet. "I’ve really enjoyed it and I will hopefully enjoy it for the next few days because it’s a great tournament.”
A stunning eagle at the 11th hole was the highlight of Chapelet’s second round of 75. The French golfer, like Henseleit, struggled to recapture the form she displayed on Tuesday when recorded a four-under-par 68.
Two players celebrated holes-in-one; Romy Meekers of the Netherlands supplied the championship’s first at the 10th hole, which was followed up by England’s Hannah Screen on the 4th later in the afternoon.
With an aggregate score of 290, Germany won the international team award, which is traditionally presented after the stroke play qualifying rounds.
The cut for the top 64 players fell at ten-over-par. The match play stage gets underway tomorrow at Hillside.
Admission to the Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship, which is played from Tuesday, June 26 to Saturday, June 30, is free of charge.