England’s Hannah Screen stayed out in front to finish as leading qualifier for the match play stage of The 116th Women’s Amateur Championship at Royal County Down.
Following the second round of stroke play qualifying, the joint overnight leader added a three-under-par round of 70 for a seven-under-par total of 139 on an overcast and breezy day in Northern Ireland.
From a starting field of 144 golfers from 26 countries, Screen lead the top 64 players into the match play stage over the renowned venue. Italy’s Angelica Moresco, who shared top spot with Screen after the first round, also eased through in second place on five-under-par.
Gurleen Kaur from the United States of America and New Zealand’s Amelia Garvey were next best to qualify on two-under-par, as only four players finished under par.
Royal County Down is hosting the event for a ninth time – exactly 120 years since the first staging in 1899.
Patience is key
Screen, a regular winner in the junior ranks, has certainly taken a liking to the course and the spectacular scenery. The 19-year-old from Berkhamsted posted four birdies in her second round and has only dropped three strokes over the 36 qualifying holes.
“It feels really good to be top qualifier,” said Screen. “I came in today trying to play steadily and I managed to do that, holing some great putts. It was harder today as the wind was definitely blowing stronger and also cross wind on some holes which is so challenging.
“I’ve struggled in the last year by not following up a really good round so it’s nice to finally put two together. I’m excited for the match play now. My match play record is pretty good. I’ll look to stay patient as this golf course is hard and anything can happen.”
Proper links experience
Moresco, 20, added, “I’m really happy. I struggled a little on the back nine and made two double bogeys in a row at the 13th and 14th. I was kind of emotional but I got it back with an eagle on the 15th and a birdie at the last. It was getting tough out there with the rain and the wind.
“It’s a new tournament from tomorrow. I’ll try to be more aggressive but also stick to my strategy.”
Garvey, 19, said, “This is my first time on a proper links course. I’m getting used to landing the ball short of the greens and it’s been fun. I’ve been using my 2 iron a lot to keep the ball in play and avoid the rough as it can be hard to control the ball in the wind with the driver.
“I made some really good pars coming in when I needed to which kept the momentum going. Match play is a whole different game so I’ll look to use the first two rounds as a learning experience.”
The cut for the leading 64 players (ties for the last place were decided by card countback using the 18 hole second round score) fell at seven-over-par.
Defending champion Leonie Harm from Germany progressed on six-over-par, with the top-ranked player in the field, Italy’s Alessia Nobilio, finishing on four-over-par.
Irish hopes are still alive after Paula Grant and Anna Foster qualified on three-over-par with Aine Donegan four-over-par. The youngest player to tee up, 14-year-old Amalie Leth-Nissen from Denmark, also progressed.
Grant said, “Being the lowest-ranked Irish player, it was a big goal just to make the cut. I played well and hit some nice shots so it was a steady two days. I didn’t really get into much trouble which was nice as there is a lot of it out there.
“I’m a member here. I live 40 minutes away and Lisburn is my home club but I’ve played at Royal County Down in the winter as it is such a great course with great practice facilities. I know the course quite well and hopefully the local knowledge can help. I’ve been to the quarter-finals of this event twice before and hopefully I can go a little further.”
“I had a tough day yesterday so I was under pressure today because I knew I had to play well,” said Nobilio. “I’m very happy with my game today and I can’t wait until tomorrow. I’ve played many good tournaments this year and last year so I will look to keep playing well.”
With an aggregate of 296, Italy won the international team award, which is traditionally presented after the stroke play qualifying rounds.
The match play stage gets underway tomorrow with each tie consisting of one round of 18 holes, including the Final on Saturday.
The winner secures spots at this year’s AIG Women’s British Open at Woburn and the 2019 Evian Championship, as well as next year’s US Women’s Open and the Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship.
Entry is free of charge throughout the week for all spectators at Royal County Down, while live scoring, news and video can be followed on The R&A’s website and social media platforms.Stroke Play Results | Match Play Draw