English duo Emily Toy and Annabell Fuller produced incredible finishes on a dramatic day at the 117th Women’s Amateur Championship to reach the semi-finals.
On a fantastic Friday at West Lancashire, defending champion Toy and former Curtis Cup player Fuller joined Aline Krauter from Germany and Italy’s Emilie Alba Paltrinieri in the last four.
Toy, who only qualified on the cut mark from stroke play qualifying, built on her impressive victories on Thursday with two nail-biting successes after extra holes. In her morning last-16 tie with Chloe Goadby, Toy dug deep to win the 18th after Goadby found the water off the tee. The pair halved the 19th with birdies, before Toy delivered another to claim a memorable success at the 20th
More heroics from the Carlyon Bay member came in the afternoon. The 22-year-old, who is bidding to become the first player to defend the Women’s Amateur title since 2005, was four down after 10 holes to Lithuania’s Gilė Bitė Starkutė. Again, she refused to be defeated and took the match to extra time after winning the 18th with a superb up-and-down and then emerged victorious at the 19th, her 39th hole of the day. It was tough luck on Starkutė, who had beaten another English player, in-form Emily Price, 3&2 in the last-16.
Toy said, “You just have to keep going as a golfer, once you are out there, you have to stick in. I was four down through six this afternoon and got one back to be three down at the turn, but then lost another at the 10th. It was my doing, to be fair, going four down, I was on a bit of a bogey train. But I managed to pick myself back up and hit some better shots which gave me the confidence. I was able to finish quite nicely too, as well as a nice up-and-down at the 18th.
“You have to stick around, not given your opponent anything or give away cheap holes. It’s a case of digging in deep and my confidence levels then rose. After 39 holes, I’ll sleep well tonight!”
Fuller, who won the English Women’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship last week, fired four birdies in her first seven holes against Italy’s Alessia Nobilio and was in control at three up after 13 holes. But Nobilio, the top-ranked player in the field and world number five, kept battling and won the 14th, 15th and 17th holes in a brilliant comeback.
Both players sliced into the water off the 18th tee in breezy conditions to continue the drama, before Fuller played a stunning approach from 192 yards to just two feet to close out a one-hole triumph.
Fuller now faces fellow 18-year-old Paltrinieri in the semi-finals, as the world number 27 continued her fine form. She saw off Sharna Dutrieux 6&5 and then was also a comfortable 5&4 winner over Caitlin Whitehead.
Fuller added, “Alessia is a great player, I’ve played with her a lot of times. I know that she is very strong and doesn’t really make any mistakes. I was pretty surprised on 18 to see her hit it right, but after I did the same thing I realised it was a really difficult tee shot.
“That shot from 192 yards is one of the best of my career. I’ve had a few that have been important. It felt so good to do it. After being up on the back nine and then dropping a couple of shots, and then Alessia making a birdie two on the 17th, I felt on 18 I really needed to get it together. After she just missed the green with her third shot, I thought it might be my chance to get it close and two feet kind of helped!
“I’m hitting it pretty good at the moment so hopefully I can keep doing that tomorrow. This is my best run in the event, my previous best was the last-32.”
In the other semi-final, Toy will come up against Aline Krauter. Having knocked out Hannah Darling in the last-16, the 21-year-old won her all-German meeting with Paula Schulz-Hanssen 4&3.
Krauter said, “It feels amazing, I’ve never been this far in the championship so I’m super excited. I was a tricky situation being paired against someone you know so well, one of your team-mates, in the afternoon. It was a fun match with Paula and a fair one.
“It was back-and-forth, she is a great player, obviously. It was a good fight from both of us. I’m not used to this type of golf, links golf, but it is great fun. I’m looking so forward to tomorrow.”
Paltrinieri added, “I’m very happy to be in the semi-finals and excited for tomorrow. Since lockdown, it has been difficult getting back to form but the last few weeks I’ve been working on my technique and playing a lot more rounds has helped my game.
“I’m disappointed not to be playing Alessia in the semi-final, I know she played a really good match right until the end, winning some holes, and I’m sorry for her. I think it is to be better weather tomorrow for the semi-finals, but I’ve been getting used to the difficult conditions.”
Both semi-finals are played tomorrow morning, ahead of the 18-hole Final in the afternoon. As Toy knows, there are significant rewards for the champion with exemptions into the AIG Women’s Open and, traditionally, the US Women’s Open, The Evian Championship and Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship.
West Lancashire is hosting the Women’s Amateur Championship for the first time, having staged the Girls’ Amateur Championship in 2009.
Live scoring, news and video can be followed at RandA.org as well as on The R&A’s social media platforms.