Giles lift title in Old Links drama

Champ Giles - all smiles
Champ Giles - all smiles
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Cornwall’s Sammie Giles holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the last hole to clinch a one-shot win in the English women’s open stroke play championship at St Annes Old Links.

She pipped Yorkshire’s Rochelle Morris who birdied the last two holes in a thrilling finale to the event – and who has now been runner-up in both English women’s championships this year.

Giles, 20, (image © Leaderboard Photography) and Morris shared the halfway lead and battled throughout 36 holes to decide the destination of the trophy.

Giles shot one-under 71 and 73 for a one-over total, while Morris returned 73 72 and finished a stroke behind.

The win gives Giles her second national title, following her success in last year’s English mid-amateur championship. “That’s pretty cool!” she said. “The mid-amateur was really big for me, especially as I beat Sarah-Jane (Boyd, a fellow Cornwall player).

“But this is bigger, especially as my old coach, Laura Eastwood (now Hendrikson) won this event on this course 10 years ago – so it’s really special to win it here.”

When the two players set out this afternoon Giles held a two-shot lead over Morris and the last round turned into a match play situation. The momentum swung to and fro, but Giles was always in front and had a four shot lead after six holes.

But her lead was cut to one after she bogeyed nine and 10, which Morris birdied. Again Giles built up an advantage and crucially birdied the 14th to be three ahead. “I really needed that and I think it put a lot of pressure on Rochelle,” she said.

However, Morris kept working away at the deficit. She parred the 15th, which Giles bogeyed, and birdied the long 17th to be just one behind.

On the 18th, a par five, both players were just short of the green in two. Giles slightly mis-hit her pitch and it pulled up 15ft short, while Morris played a lovely shot which finished about 3ft from the hole. The pressure was on, but Giles rose to the challenge and slotted home the putt: “I knew I had to get it right so I gave it a little extra time, I felt confident – and it went in! Rochelle played really well and finished birdie, birdie, it was a great effort.”

Third place was shared by Scotland’s Lauren Whyte and Elizabeth Stebbings (Formby Ladies’) on eight over par. One shot further back in fifth place were Lianna Bailey (Kirby Muxloe) and Bethany Garton (Royal Lytham & St Annes).