England’s Maggie Whitehead produced the best round of her young life to move into contention at the Girls U16 Amateur Championship at Fulford, with overnight leader Francesca Fiorellini still ahead.
Whitehead, aged only 12-years-old, came into the championship to simply further her experiences, but surged through the field into second place after a superb two-under-par 73 on day two.
The Close House member, who opened with a brilliant eagle and added three birdies to temporarily hold the lead over the international field, finished two strokes behind Italy’s Fiorellini, who added a 76 to her opening 71 for a leading total of three-under-par.
“It was the lowest round of my life,” admitted Whitehead. “I wasn’t expecting to shoot two-under-par, but I stuck to my game plan, stayed sensible and managed to stay out of danger until the wind picked up and I made three late bogeys.
“I knew I had a good score going and there are a few leaderboards dotted around the course, but I tried not to look at them. I knew I would try too hard if I did look.
“I’m not far off the top, so I’m really pleased. I’m going to be in the final group tomorrow, but I don’t want to put too much expectation on me and just go out and shoot as best as possible.”
Fiorellini is chasing more silverware in the UK after winning the English U14 Girls’ Open Championship at Lyme Regis last August. In difficult conditions in Yorkshire, with regular rain showers and wind to deal with, the 13-year-old was pleased to stay at the summit.
“I didn’t play as well as yesterday, but I’m really happy as the conditions were really bad with the rain and wind,” said Fiorellini. “I’m happy still to be top of the leaderboard and I hope I can win tomorrow. I’ll play as well as I can.”
Fellow Italian Matilde Innocenti Angelini is also in the title hunt, sitting in a share of third place with England’s Eve Neild on level par, after a second successive 75.
Innocenti Angelini said, “I played very well, it was very difficult in the conditions. I lost some shots in the last holes but I’m happy. I hope to do my best again tomorrow. It’s a well organised event and I’m enjoying it.”
Neild was fourth reserve last year so is delighted to be competing and in contention.
The 14-year-old, from Royal Norwich, said, “I could have shot better, but my putts weren’t dropping. Overall, I’m happy. It’s the first time I’ve played in this event and it’s been really well organised with lovely people. The course is amazing too and in great condition.
“I just came here to enjoy myself, but have ended up playing well over both days. I’m pretty confident for tomorrow, I’ll play aggressive and hope for the best.”
The chasing pack includes Scotland’s Grace Crawford on one-over-par, another 12-year-old thriving this week. The Gullane player holed a 25 feet putt on the 18th for par and said, “I played well and I was playing with two of my friends in Maggie and Libby (Bell), which was really nice. I’ve moved up the leaderboard further than I thought, so it’s all to play for tomorrow.”
The winner tomorrow will lift the The Angela Uzielli Trophy and secure immediate entry to the R&A Girls Amateur Championship at Panmure in Scotland in August.
The 54-hole stroke play event was introduced last year 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 enjoys a prestigious reputation as a championship venue, including staging the first ever Women’s British Open (then known as the Ladies’ British Open) in 1976, won by Jenny Lee Smith.
View round two scores here.