Girl international Inci Mehmet (pictured by Leaderboard Photos) played “smart golf” to lead the English women’s amateur championship with a round of level par 71 after a testing first day at St Enodoc in Cornwall.
She’s one shot clear of Cheshire’s Gemma Clews and Charlotte West of Buckinghamshire. A further stroke behind is a group of three players: defending champion Sarah-Jane Boyd of Cornwall, last year’s runner-up Alex Peters of Nottinghamshire, and Curtis Cup player Bronte Law of Cheshire.
“I’ll take that,” said Sarah-Jane (pictured below). “I hit lots of fairways and greens, but not close enough to hole the putts. But I was very steady and there’s plenty left in the tank.”
She admitted to a few first-tee nerves as defending champion. “There’s a little bit of pressure, but I had lots of support out there and after a couple of holes I settled down.”
The sun shone throughout the first round and the breeze was gentle – but the course had plenty of bite. It was playing long, the fast greens were testing, and the thick rough put a premium on straight and accurate shots.
Inci Mehmet, 17, (pictured top) decided on a game plan which avoided aggressive play, declaring: “I honestly think this is the hardest course I have ever seen.
“I went out today and told myself to play defensive and smart golf. I didn’t go for anything. I’m known to be quite a greedy golfer and to go for things when probably I shouldn’t,” added the Wentworth player, who had Cornwall golfer and St Enodoc member Joe Cruse on the bag.
“It could have been better because I missed three short putts but I’m happy that I finished level – and it’s my mum’s birthday today as well!” addded Inci.
Players hunting for balls in the rough was a common sight during the day – but there were also plenty of spectacular shots to please the spectators.
Gemma Clews, who shares second place, holed a seven-iron from 160 yards for an eagle two on the 12th. It was, she said, “the first time I’ve holed a full shot in competition.”
She described the course as: “Really hard. It’s playing quite long and there are some difficult pin positions and it’s links golf, you can hit good shots and get bad bounces. But I just kept it in play and if you do that you’re fine. I hit one bad tee shot – but I found it!”
Charlotte West, who is also tied second, adopted a novel approach to the course and was rewarded with a score of 72. “I imagined there wasn’t any rough and it was just trees,” explained the 16-year-old, who plays on a parkland course.
“I tried to keep making pars, to stay away from the double bogeys and if I had a birdie opportunity to try and make it. I was really chuffed with it.” Charlotte, a former Buckinghamshire champion, won on the WPGA’s one-day series earlier this year.
Just behind her is Curtis Cup player Bronte Law who transformed her round with a birdie run and returned a two-over 73. “I started off horrendously,” she said. “I went out of bounds on the fourth and then had two three-putts and I was five over through six – then I had four birdies in five holes.”
Alex Peters from Nottinghamshire is also tied in fourth place after a solid round, which included three bogeys and one birdie. “I had four or five chances and then on the last I was just short of the green in two and my chip for eagle finished an inch from the hole. I played pretty well and I’ll try to hole some more putts tomorrow.”
Cornwall’s Sammie Giles played one of the shots of the day when she made short work of the 168-yard 15th to hole in one with a six iron. It was her second ace, but her first in competition. “I ripped it, it was nice!”
Sammie, who won the English mid-amateur title earlier this month, signed for a final score of 78 and remarked: “The course was good, I just found a bit of trouble. I found the thick stuff and should have taken my punishment!”
The referees dealt with a host of questions from players – but their strangest request for assistance came from two men who were carrying a lectern from St Enodoc Church across the course. There’s nothing in the Rules of Golf to cover that!
After tomorrow’s second round the field will be cut to the leading 32 players and ties who will play the final 36 holes on Thursday.
Source: England Golf