Esme Hamilton (Royal & Ancient photo)
, a 22-year-old from Nottingham, England, claimed four back-nine birdies as she signed for a five-under-par 68 to sit a stroke clear of a congested international leaderboard at the 119th Women’s Amateur Championship at Hunstanton Golf Club, rekindling her memories of playing the links as a young girl.
“I played here with some of the members when I was absolutely tiny,” recalled Hamilton from Notts Ladies. “So I don't remember the course having played it in practice yesterday and today – apart from the beach huts on the last. This is probably my best achievement in golf to date to be leading.”
Course record holder Amelia Williamson
, fellow English player Roisin Scanlon
– who went close in last year’s R&A Girls’ U16 Amateur at Enville – and Italian duo Emilie Alba Paltrinieri
and Alessandra Fanali
are one behind Hamilton. The quartet posted excellent four-under-par rounds of 69 as a 144-player field representing 24 countries gathered on a glorious day on the Norfolk coast.
Williamson is attached to nearby Sheringham GC but is also a member at Hunstanton where she is the women’s course record holder after returning a six-under score in 2020.
The English player was back on form on the links, helped by a back nine that yielded two birdies and an eagle at the 15th.
“I know it well,” she said of the venue. “But I don't get to come over here and play that much or as much as I would like. I would say the biggest advantage I have would be if the wind was to change. The wind today is exactly the same as it was yesterday in the practice round.”
Fanali, who lost in a three-way play-off to Morgane Metraux of Switzerland among professionals at the Ladies Italian Open on the Ladies European Tour earlier this month, also shone in the sun.
Of the morning starters who were faced with windier conditions, Paltrinieri displayed the form that has seen her shine in R&A championships in recent years. The 20-year-old won the Girls’ Amateur title in 2016 at Royal St David’s and also lost in the semi-finals of the Women’s Amateur in 2020.
“I play in R&A events every year so it has given me some good experience in the wind and on links courses, so that's an advantage, said Paltrinieri.
Two other English players, Euphemie Rhodes and Lucy Jamieson, are well-placed on three-under, alongside French player Maylis Lamoure and Sweden's Moa Svedenskiöld.
“It's just lovely to feel like there's some normality in the world again and people can travel and seeing all sort of international players coming back, it's good. It’s a strong field here,” said Jamieson, the Heswall member.
Rhodes, who had her mum, Penny, caddying for her, added, “I just got back from university in America (Wake Forest). I had a solid year, not too great, so I wasn't coming into this with much confidence. But it's a fresh start and a good start to the summer.”
sits second on the World Amateur Golf Ranking® – and she proved it after an opening solid 71, two-under. The Swede is fresh off an 11th-place finish in the US Women’s Open, taking low amateur honors.
Match play hopes
Curtis Cup duo Annabell Fuller
(71) and Hannah Darling
(72) are in the mix while defending champion Louise Duncan
signed for a two-over 75.
Ireland’s Beth Coulter
, Harriet Lynch
from Thorndon Park – who hit the first tee shot at 6.45am – and French player Vairana Heck
are also on two-under after 71s.
The field play another 18 holes of stroke play tomorrow to determine the 64 players who progress to the match play stages.
ABOUT THE Ladies British Amateur
This championship, along with the US Women’s
Amateur Golf Championship, is considered the
important in women’s amateur golf.
The first stage of the Championship involves
players each of whom plays two rounds of 18
The 64 lowest scores over the 36 holes will
in the match play stage of the Championship.
match will consist of one round of 18 holes,
The ‘Pam Barton Memorial Salver’ is awarded to
winner of the Championship, while the runner-
receives The Diana Fishwick Cup. An
team award is presented after the stroke play
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