Austrians Emma Spitz and Isabella Holpfer defied wet and wild conditions at Ardglass to finish in style and secure their places in tomorrow’s semi-finals of the 90th Girls British Open Amateur Championship.
Eighteen-year-old Spitz, a two-time Junior Solheim Cup player and a Junior Ryder Cup performer, found herself two down to England’s Amy Taylor after 13 holes of their quarter-final.
Bur Spitz produced a brilliant burst of four birdies in the last five holes, including a 17-feet putt on the final green for a two-hole triumph.
On a challenging day for scoring at Ardglass, it was a superb display from a player ranked inside the top 60 in the World Amateur Golf RankingTM (WAGRTM) as the Austrians enjoyed a day to savour.
Spitz said, “It was a really close match in the afternoon against Amy. I was two down after 13 but started a run of birdies from there which was really good and helped me win in the end.
“I’ve played in this event four times now and I’ve always lost in the first round so it feels good to be in the semi-finals. It’s my last time playing in the event so hopefully I can go all the way. I’m going to do everything I can tomorrow.”
Holpfer, 17, ended the Italian challenge after securing a notable 2&1 win over Alessia Nobilio in their quarter-final. Nobilio, the highest-ranked player in the field at 19th in the world and a consistent performer in Europe this season, was two up after six holes before Holpfer battled back and closed the match out with a winning birdie on the 17th.
The victory built on Holpfer’s last-16 win over the second seed, France’s Mathilde Claisse. “I know Alessia, we played together in the Junior Vagliano Trophy last year,” said Holpfer. “She is a pretty good player.
“I was two down after six holes but I won the seventh and eighth and we were all square up to the 15th. I then made a par and a birdie to win, which was a great feeling. I have won in Ireland before, at the 2015 Irish Ladies Open at Dún Laoghaire and it would be nice to do well again tomorrow.”
Also in the morning, Spitz was a one-hole winner over Finland’s Krista Junkkari, while Bawburgh’s Taylor defeated Italy’s Emilie Alba Paltrinieri to end the hopes of the 2016 champion at Royal St David’s.
Berger in form
Spitz, who qualified fifth in stroke play qualifying at Ardglass, now faces Yael Berger from Switzerland in the last four.
Berger overcame Girls Under 16 Open champion Hannah Darling from Scotland 4&2 before going on to defeat Italy’s Caterina Don 3&2. The 17-year-old, who won the Swiss Under-18s Championship earlier this year and also posted a top-10 finish at the German Girls, lost the opening hole before taking control with a run of three wins from the 3rd.
“It was pretty hard out there,” she admitted. “I’ve never played in such tough conditions but it was a good fight against Caterina. My chipping and putting was good which you need to have in those type of conditions.
“I missed the cut in this event last year so I’m delighted to be in the semi-finals. I’m pretty confident for tomorrow as I feel my game is in good shape.”
As the wind whipped across the County Down links, Charlotte Heath from England produced the best quarter-final performance. The Huddersfield girl birdied the 8th, eagled the 9th and birdied the 11th en route to a comeback 4&3 success over compatriot Sophie Johnson. Johnson chipped in three times and held a two-hole lead after four holes, before Heath impressively rallied.
Heath, 16, was part of the England team that won the Girls’ Home Internationals last week and will hope to maintain her form against Holpfer tomorrow.
“It’s the first time I’ve played in the competition so it’s been quite good so far,” she said. “My golf since last year has come on leaps and bounds and it has been good to keep my form going this week. I holed a good swinging putt for birdie on the eighth and that kind of changed the game around for me.
“It has been hard with fatigue this week but it’s good to know I continue my performances. English players have been doing well and you do want to try and join the crowd to be a high achiever.”
Saturday’s semi-finals and final are all played over 18 holes, with the qualifiers looking to join a winners’ list that includes Anna Nordqvist, Suzann Pettersen, Azahara Munoz and the new Ricoh Women’s British Open Champion Georgia Hall.