Annabel Wilson (Lurgan) denied Paula Grant (Lisburn) a third Irish Women’s Close Championship in the as she fought back from two down with two holes to play to win on the first extra tie hole.
Caption: Jessica Ross (Clandeboye), Annabel Wilson (Lurgan) and Emma Fleming (Elm Park) | Pat Cashman
Wilson, 18, has two Irish Girls’ Close titles to her name but a Women’s Championship is the icing on the cake.
‘It hasn’t hit me,’ she said on the 19th green. ‘I think it will on the drive home – I am delighted, it’s been a marathon this week. I’m knackered but I’m buzzing.’
Wilson completed her A Level exams this month and has just returned from a prolonged three month break from the fairways but despite going home with the trophy, admits that there was some rusty shots in the bag this week.
‘I learned from the first day, I could see some rusty patches in my short game, which wasn’t sharp, but I’m fortunate enough my long game is up there. I’m always hitting 14 or 15 greens so that kind of saves me but there’s some days like today when your timing is off but that’s the way it is, that’s golf and that’s why we love it!’
Wilson looks forward to a summer without the books now with the European Team Championships next on the agenda.
‘That’s always a fun week, again it’s a marathon and it will be really warm so I’ll need to get my fitness up after this week, get a bit of rest and go at it again. Then I’m going to play European Individual and it’s not long until I go to America which I’m really excited about!’
Wilson will join Olivia Mehaffey (Arizona State), Julie McCarthy (Auburn) and Mairead Martin (Louisville) on the NCAA Division 1 collegiate circuit as she joins the golf programme at UCLA.
‘I can’t wait, I’ve literally been counting down the days for the last two years! It’s brilliant. They’ve a great golf programme and they’ve produced so many LPGA Tour players and that’s where I want to be so I think it’s the perfect school for me.’
For Grant, who had beaten Lauren Walsh (Castlewarden) on the 18th in the morning’s semi-finals, it was disappointment on the final hurdle. Her tee shot on 17 found a bunker and her drive on the 19th tucked itself behind one of Woodbrook’s pine trees – ultimately costing her the match. Wilson was unnerved throughout.
‘Honestly I was just playing golf, I had no nerves at all really. Paula sort of handed me one on 17, we both made sloppy errors there. On eighteen I hit a lovely approach in and then on the tie hole I just needed two rhythmic swings and that’s what I did.’
Jessica Ross (Clandeboye) was the other beaten semi-finalist but returns to Belfast with the Leitrim Cup for leading qualifier. Emma Fleming (Elm Park) won the Ita Wallace Plate while Wilson also claimed the Sybill Meharg trophy for best U18 in stroke play qualifying.