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Coulter and Darling progress at Fulford

Ireland’s Beth Coulter and Hannah Darling remained on course for another duel at Fulford after progressing to the quarter-finals of the R&A Girls’ Amateur Championship.

Coulter saw off the challenge of leading stroke play qualifier, Rachel Gourley, in the last-16 after a 2&1 win, while Scotland’s Darling also eased into the last eight after beating Darcy Harry 6&5. 

Darling, boosted by her Curtis Cup selection on Monday, won the inaugural R&A Girls’ U16 Amateur Championship at the Yorkshire venue in 2018, capitalising on a late Coulter mistake.

The pair could yet meet in the final at Fulford this week, with Coulter, 17, continuing her solid season after beating Gourley and 13-year-old Roisin Scanlon, the youngest player in the field. 

Great match

“It was definitely a nice win over Rachel. Coming out playing the top seed, all the pressure was on her,” said Coulter. “I just wanted to come out and play solidly and winning the 1st hole was massive for me. It’s a really tough hole and I felt from there I could keep the pressure on.

“I was three up through nine but Rachel came back and took me to the 17th – it was a great match. The key for me is definitely keeping it in play on the fairway, as I struggled in the stroke play being in a couple of bunkers and trees.

“It’s the furthest I’ve been in this competition and hopefully I can push on. Back in 2018, it was three rounds of stroke play and it’s now great to play knock-out here as it’s a great match play course with the bunkers, rough and trees.”

Darling delight

Darling, 18, has also flourished this summer – including winning the St Rule Trophy – and was not taken past the 14thhole in her two comfortable victories against Harry and, earlier, Faye Wheatley.

She said, “I feel like I did everything well today, even with a few missed chances. I was happy enough to get the last-16 tie won pretty early, so it’s an early meal, early to bed and ready for tomorrow. 

“There are a couple of short par-5s and I’m hitting my woods pretty solid. I can reach those holes in two, while I can also take advantage of the short par-4s. It’s still a tight course but there are chances for me.” 

Maggie Whitehead, 15, recently crowned English Girls' Under-16 Open champion, also continued her form to reach the last-eight, defeating her compatriot Patience Rhodes by two holes.

Friendly rivalry

“I feel a little bad as I was playing against Patience and we’re close friends from being in the national squad together,” said Whitehead.

“This is my favourite tournament of the year and I always love coming to this venue, so I’m always smiling at this event! There are some tough matches ahead with some really good players in the quarter-finals so I’ll just try and hole a few more putts again tomorrow. I’ve holed a lot of putts this week and just need to try and improve my long game.”

Whitehead now meets Wales’ Gracie Mayo, who beat Ameila Wan 2&1 in the last-16, while Ellen Yates capped her debut appearance in the championship by reaching the quarter-finals thanks to a two-hole triumph over fellow English player Olivia Lee.

Mayo in form

“I came in with the goal of winning and I’m still on track for that,” added Mayo. “I was really pleased with how I played, bouncing back from a few shaky starts. I reached the quarter-finals of the Women’s Amateur Championship in June, so I’m hoping to build on that. It was good to have that experience this year.

“I played the Under-16s here in 2019, where I did well and fell in love with the course. It is a special place. I just turned 17 yesterday so hopefully the birthday celebrations are postponed until the weekend!”

Lottie Woad, who finished third in stroke playing qualifying, exited in a 5&3 defeat to Olivia Williams in the last-16.

Match Play Results and Draw