Alice Barlow wins Suffolk Ladies’ title for second straight year

Sharon Luckman (left) runner-up with the Lady Ellis Silver Box and Suffolk champion Alice Barlow wit

Sharon Luckman (left) runner-up with the Lady Ellis Silver Box and Suffolk champion Alice Barlow with the Churchman Challenge Cup after a close final at Aldeburgh. Photograph: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

She beat the resilient Sharon Luckman, county vice-captain, by one hole in a final that hung in the balance until the very end in the sunshine at Aldeburgh.

Barlow, the Newton Green course record holder, now holds her handicap at Hintlesham. She was two up early on but all square at the turn. Strangely the 10th hole, that has produced an eagle and several birdies earlier in the competition, was halved in bogey. Luckman established a brief advantage but Barlow was back in front at the par-three 15th.

Luckman has earned a reputation over the years as a never say die competitor. She birdied the long 16th to draw level again. Barlow’s par was enough at the 128-yard 17th and she held on for a half in par at the last to retain the title she won at Stowmarket a year ago.

Both semi-finals were hard fought. They started under overcast skies but the sun was out by the time the players reached the turn. In the first match between Barlow and Fiona Edmond the lead kept changing hands with never more than a hole between them.

Barlow was one up on the 18th but for a while the match looked destined to go down the 19th. Edmond’s drive was down the middle while Barlow had to chip out from the rough on the left at right angles. Her ball had some tufty grass behind it.

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Barlow’s third was on the green on the left while Edmond found a bunker on the right. Her third shot stayed in the bunker and Barlow took full advantage.

In the second match Vanessa Bell was three up during the first nine, two up at the turn and then only one up after missing a short putt on the 10th. Luckman then took control and was dormie three. Bell won the 16th and 17th so Luckman was only one up on the final tee.

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Luckman’s drive found a fairway bunker and Bell was in rough on the right. Luckman chipped out but not very far but Bell’s second shot found gorse which ended her brave recovery.

The early stages of the match play produced several games in which established county players met longer handicap opponents who enjoyed the experience despite little hope of winning.

The best match was between Luckman and Blaize Esmond who is making a come-back to amateur golf after a spell in the professional ranks. Esmond was two down early on, all square at the half-way stage and then took the match down the 19th before Luckman emerged the winner. Esmond is still county standard and holds a handicap of one.

The other competitive match was the one in which Abbie Symonds beat Sarah Howe two up. In the quarter-finals there were birdies and an eagle in the clash in which Barlow beat Lottie Whyman 3 and 2 in a repeat of last year’s final.

Luckman upset the stroke-play form by defeating Lils James of Bungay 3 and 2 while there were wins for Edmond and Bell.

The stylish and consistent Edmond retained the Woodbridge Challenge Bowl as Suffolk Ladies’ stroke play champion for the second successive year. Ladies use the stroke play as a qualifier for the match play from which the county champion emerges.

Edmond needed to keep her nerve. She produced a sparkling second round to take the title. She set off five shots behind James. Two under at the turn, she eagled the 10th and was five under on the 14th tee when she had a double which dented hopes of a course record. She birdied the last to end four under.

The story of the first round was the amazing James who was only one short of the ladies’ course record. She was two under at the turn and then produced three more birdies on her back nine without dropping a shot. She attributed her five under par round to working hard on her game under the watchful eye of Bungay professional Andrew Collison.

In the afternoon she was three over at the turn but produced birdies at the par five 10th and 11th holes to put her challenge back on track. She ended three shots behind Edmond but seven shots ahead of county captain Bell and reigning champion Barlow to win the Maggie Ivor-Jones Plate. Her smart form was no surprise as she set a new course at Bungay this year.

Whyman, who works in the pro shop at Colchester Golf Club but is still a member at Ipswich, was fifth with 157. Apart from Barlow and James Ipswich members were dominant. Lottie Edmunds, a former Suffolk first team player and Aldeburgh member, won the senior match play settled on 18 holes.

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