Thursday, May 30, 2024

Olivia Costello takes third at Girls U16 Amateur Championship – Irish Golfer Magazine

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Louise Landgraf held her nerve in a play-off to become the first French winner of the R&A Girls’ U16 Amateur Championship at The Berkshire.

Landgraf needed a play-off to see off England’s Charlotte Naughton over the Red Course, taking the Angela Uzielli Trophy with a par at the second play-off hole, the par-5 opening hole, after they tied on eight-under-par 211.

The pair set a new 54-hole championship record, bettering the six-under-par mark Italy’s Francesca Fiorellini recorded to win the 2019 title.

The French player lived up to her billing as the top ranked player in the field at 134th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®). She joins the likes of Fiorellini and inaugural winner (2018) Hannah Darling as champions but it was anything but easy.

“My voice is a bit shaky now because I had a lot of adrenaline and nerves today,” said Landgraf. “I didn’t have my best golf so I just tried to stay as calm as possible. Charlotte played really well and I knew she was getting closer to me all the time.”

Holding a five-shot lead over Naughton and Ireland’s Olivia Costello heading into the final round, 15-year-old Landgraf added a closing one-over-par 74 to earlier rounds of 68 and 69. She becomes the sixth winner of the popular 54-hole stroke play championship, which was making its debut at The Berkshire.

Landgraf still had a three-shot lead over Naughton with four holes to play but bogeyed the 15th and 16th. Naughton then birdied the 18th to shoot 69, three-under, to force the play-off. However, the English player three-putted the second extra hole while Landgraf two-putted. Costello finished third, three shots out of the play-off.

“It was a good battle and I had a lot of nerves just looking at the leaderboard all day,” said Landgraf. “I’ve always wanted to play in Britain. I wanted to win, but I’ve never played on a course like this and didn’t know what the conditions were going to be like.”

Landgraf, who lives in Thailand but claims French citizenship from her father, added, “I’m just so proud of myself to win this great chammpionship. It feels great to be called the R&A Girls’ Under 16 Amateur Champion.

“I think this win is going to motivate me for the rest of the year. I’m just so proud of myself because of all the work I’ve put in. It’s been a great experience playing this great golf course and managing myself in these conditions.”

Landgraf warmed up for the Championship by finishing 17th among the professionals in the Terre Blanche Ladies Open on the LET Access Series. The precocious teenager was defending her 2023 Terre Blanche victory, which she won as a 14-year-old to become the youngest winner of a women’s professional tournament.

Landgraf excelled at The Berkshire with a record number of countries represented (22) in the 80-player field, including players from Cyprus, Iceland, India, the UAE and Hong Kong, China. She succeeds Germany’s Antonia Steiner as champion, who also needed a play-off to take the title last year.

Credit for finishing the Championship went to The Berkshire Golf Club’s green staff. Heavy overnight rain saturated the golf course, flooding some greens and leaving multiple puddles on fairways. Course manager Ian Morrison and his greenkeeping team did an excellent job getting the course in shape.

Twelve-year-old Sabrina Wong won the Liz Pook Trophy which goes to the leading under-14 player. The Hong Kong native finished joint ninth on level par.

Landgraf, Naughton, Costello and French player Lea Giron gained exemptions into the R&A Girls’ Amateur Championship at Alwoodley Golf Club in August as the Championship’s top four players.

The R&A Girls’ U16 Amateur Championship was introduced in 2018 as part of The R&A’s drive to boost the girls’ game in Great Britain and Ireland and beyond, as well as to provide a pathway to the elite amateur level for leading young players.

The trophy won by Landgraf is named after the late wife of John Uzielli, Past Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. Angela was a decorated amateur golfer, including representing Great Britain and Ireland in the Curtis Cup in 1978.

View final scores from the R&A Girls’ U16 Amateur Championship here.

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