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Taylor, Boulden Latest To Turn Pro

by Colin Callander - September 30, 2013

English international, Lauren Taylor, and her Welsh counterpart, Amy Boulden, are the latest leading British amateurs to decide to turn professional.

Taylor, the 2011 Ladies’ British Open Amateur champion, who celebrated her 19th birthday last Thursday, announced a couple of months ago that she would leave Baylor University to play both the professional and amateur circuits as an amateur.

However, after winning a Ladies European Tour Access Series event, the Norrporten Ladies’ Open in Sweden, she changed her mind and made her professional debut at another LETAS event, the Ladies’ Norwegian Challenge, where she missed the cut by a single shot after carding rounds of 77 and 74.

She also played in last week’s WPGA International Challenge at Stoke by Nayland, near Colchester, finishing tied 18th after rounds of 75, 72 and 72.

“I was going to stay amateur until Tour School but I thought there’s no point because I’m only playing in pro events until the end of the year,” said Taylor. “The Home Internationals were my last event as an amateur and I’m looking forward to playing as a pro.

“I left college because I didn’t want to stay amateur for another three or four years and I feel I’m playing well. I felt like the time was right.

“My parents were very supportive of my decision,” she added. “They have done a lot for me so I hope to give something back.”

Amy Boulden

Boulden also bowed out of the amateur ranks after the Home Internationals at Ladybank, where she was part of the winning Welsh side, and the 20-year-old professional’s daughter from Conwy made her debut in the paid ranks alongside Taylor at the LETAS event at Stoke by Nayland. Indeed, she led for a while during the final round before slipping back into a tie for second place, three shots behind winner, Hannah Ralph from England.

The Welsh girl headed into the professional ranks as reigning Welsh and English Amateur Stroke Play champion, having also played in a winning Curtis Cup team, the Junior Solheim Cup, the Junior Ryder Cup, the Vagliano Trophy and the Astor Trophy. The victory at Ladybank made her the only Welsh player of either sex to win three Home International titles.

“It was a nice way to finish off at the Home Internationals, it was my last amateur event and great to be going out with a win,” she said.

“I’m definitely proud of my amateur career,” she added. “After missing out on a place on the Ladies’ European Tour in final qualifying last year I decided to give it one more year in the amateur game, but I feel ready to turn professional now and I am preparing to go back to qualifying.”

Boulden’s appearance at Stoke by Nayland was one of two she planned to make on the LETAS circuit before both she and Taylor headed to Morocco for the LET Tour School later this year.

“I am going to play this week and next week,” she said before teeing up in England. “Then, my sister works out in Abu Dhabi Golf Club so I am going to go and do some practice there for a few weeks, to get myself ready for Tour School,” she said.

“I’ve played a lot of golf with Charley (Hull). I played a lot with Holly Clyburn as well, so to see how well they have done, to be in teams with them, it just gives you a bit of confidence in turning pro to know you can do it as well.

“I’ve got into three Ricoh Women’s British Opens; I played at the (English Ladies’ Open) at the Buckinghamshire last year so I’ve had some experience playing in pro events and hopefully I can take that with me. I’m just going to go out there and play how I have; I’ve had a good season so far this year, especially the last couple of months so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.”

Twenty leading English amateurs were invited to play in the LETAS event at Stoke by Nayland and the top finisher among them was Amber Ratcliffe, from Norfolk, who carded rounds of 71, 73 and 72 to finish in a tie for 10th place. Bethan Popel, Rachel Goodall and Tara Watters also made the cut.

England overcame a spirited challenge from Scotland to retain their title at the Senior Men’s Home Internationals at Royal County Down.

The defending champions halved their opening match against the Scots but then defeated Wales 6½-2½ and Ireland 6-3 to claim a narrow two point victory after Scotland could only beat Ireland 5½-3½ and Wales 5-4.

The hosts, Ireland, who came into the event as winners of the recent European Senior Men’s Team Championship, maintained that form when they thrashed Wales 7½-1½ on the opening day but in the end had to settle for third place after defeats against both Scotland and England. The Welsh collected the wooden spoon after losing all three of their matches.

England’s victory was secured by a solid team performance in which Andrew Stracey, Tyrone Carter, Richard Latham and Chris Reynolds all won at least four points and John Ambrose amassed a haul of three and a half points for his team’s cause.

Scotland’s Ian Brotherston was the most successful player at Co. Down after winning five and halving one of his six matches. His compatriot, David Gardner, also emerged undefeated after collecting two wins and three halves in his five appearances.

This week sees the senior women contest their Home Internationals at Llandudno, Wales. Defending champions, Ireland, will start in a buoyant mood having won the gold medal at the recent European Senior Women’s Team Championship in Slovenia. England won the bronze medal at that event while Scotland lost to Belgium in the final of Flight B. The Welsh team includes Ann Lewis, winner of the recent Senior Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush.

Global Golf Post readers of a certain vintage will be well aware of how good a golfer the acclaimed Scottish amateur, Ian Hutcheon, was in his prime.

The Monifieth player won the Scottish Amateur (1973), the Scottish Open Amateur Stroke Play (1971, ’74 and ’79), the Scottish Champion of Champions (1980, ’81, ’86 and ’88), the Lytham Trophy (1980) and the Scottish Seniors’ Open Stroke Play (2003, ’04 and ’07) and he was also a permanent fixture both for Scotland and GB&I throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s.

Hutcheon’s played in four Walker Cup teams but arguably his finest moment came at Penina in 1976 when he played the final eight holes in 4-under par to claim the Eisenhower Trophy (World Amateur Team Champions) for GB&I and also share the individual honours with Taiwan’s Tze-Ming Chen.

The good news for all Hutcheon’s admirers – and I have no hesitation in including myself among that sizeable group – is that 37 years later he is still performing with considerable aplomb as he showed earlier this month when, at the age of 71, he defeated his nephew, Chris Hutcheon, the defending champion, by 2 and 1 in the final of the Monifieth Club Championship.

Remarkably, it was the 17th time Hutcheon had lifted the trophy, the first coming 51 years before and his latest victory means that he has now won the championship at least once in each of the last six decades.

The Scottish septuagenarian is a modest man and is often reluctant to talk about his successes but his current club captain, Bill Miller, put his latest victory into perspective when he said: “It was wonderful to referee a great final, an emotional final. It’s a great achievement by Ian, truly remarkable.”

Robert Browning and Sam Dodds were both in sparkling form as they led their Club, Coventry, to victory in the English Champion Club event at Dudsbury Golf Club in Dorset.

Browning carded rounds of 67 and 69 while Dodds added a 65 to his opening 72 as Coventry posted a two round total of 420 to finish five shots ahead of King’s Lynn and defending champions, Walsall.

Former amateur international, Andrew Carman, the third member of the Coventry team, shot rounds of 75 and 72.

“This is brilliant but it’s what we came for,” said Browning. “We felt we had a slender chance of winning like everybody else but this is a team event and it’s all about putting three good scores together.”

“I don’t know what the reaction will be at the club but I think they will be thrilled,” said Dodds, who carded six birdies and did not drop a single shot in his closing 65.

Dodds was one of three players to post a 6-under-par 65 on a dramatic final day in which Coventry started four shots behind first round leaders, Darlington, who slipped back to fourth place ahead of Spalding and Lincolnshire.

King’s Lynn’s second place finish was helped no end by a 65 from Luke Johnson, while 18 year-old Josh Hilleard, from Farrington Park, equalled that score as last year’s runners-up claimed 12th place.

The best individual totals of the tournament were posted by Prestbury’s Fraser MacLeod and Hexham’s Sean Heads who recorded identical scores of 67 and 68 to finish on 7-under-par 135.

Great Britain & Ireland put in a dominant performance as they defeated the USA by 13½-4½ in the Simpson Cup at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

It was the second year in a row that GB&I has won a match contested between teams of injured servicemen and veterans from both sides of the Atlantic.

GB&I claimed a 11½-6½ victory in last year’s inaugural event at the TPC Sawgrass in Florida but the US looked like they might turn the tables after sharing the opening four-balls 3-3 before the home side moved up a gear to win the singles 10½-1½.

Captain Ian Bishop, who won his own singles, 3 and 2, against the American backmarker, Casey O’Brien, was delighted with his team’s performance. “The lads have done fantastically well,” he said. “Obviously, it was tight the first day. On paper, the singles looked fair, but we played great. The scoreline maybe doesn’t relect how close it was but it shows how well our boys played.”

The event was the brainchild of John Simpson, who once managed Nick Faldo, and who also founded the On Course Foundation (OCF), a charity set up to facilitate injured servicemen throughout the game via golf tuition and employment in the golf business.

“The competition and camaraderie is key to what we are trying to do here,” explained Simpson. “One of the guys this week simply said to me: ‘We’ve fought together, been injured together and suffered deaths together.’ All the guys this week have suffered in combat. Through golf they now have a chance to get together, have some fun, exchange stories and this all helps with the recovery process.”

The University of Stirling survived the loss of one of their key players on their way to winning last week’s European Universities Team Championship at Saint-Saëns in France.

Scottish international, Jack McDonald, was struck down with flu midway through the tournament but that did not stop his teammates, reigning Scottish champion Zander Culverwell, 2012 Belgian Amateur champion Mathias Eggenberger, 2013 Irish champion Cormac Sharvin and 2012 Scottish Boys’ winner Craig Howie, battling to a memorable victory over the University of Halmsted. The National University of Ireland, Maynooth, came third in the 72-hole stroke play event.

The victory in France means that Stirling currently holds the Scottish, British and European titles.

“It is one of our finest team performances ever,” said Stirling head coach, Dean Robertson. “It was the toughest competition we’ve been up against and for me the most pleasing aspect was the overall team performance. Losing Jack was a blow, but up stepped Craig with a final round of 67 which spurred everyone on.”

Stirling just missed out on a notable double when they finished second behind Halmsted in the concurrent women’s event.

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