Hannah Ralph produced the golf strokes of a master in Constable Country to win in a thrilling finish at the WPGA International Challenge at Stoke by Nayland with two birdies on the last two holes.
In what proved a dramatic climax to the third and final round that had seen the lead change hands with bewildering regularity, Ralph posted birdies on the final two holes to claim the €4,000 winner’s cheque.
Amy Boulden failed to capitalise on her birdie chance and finished three strokes adrift of Ralph and sharing second place with Galina Rotmistrova of Russia. Rotmistrova, in common with the winner, posted one-under for the third round of the tournament. Scotland’s Kelsey MacDonald, who is also new to the professional ranks and was one stroke clear after two rounds, also faltered in the final stages and had to settle for tied fifth place with Finland’s Monica Christiansen, one stroke behind Mireia Prat of Spain who was fourth.
A selection of Great Britain and Ireland’s top female PGA pros competed against rising stars of the future in the inaugural WPGA International Challenge at the family-owned Stoke by Nayland resort at the end of September. The 54-hole tournament, which was sponsored by the host venue, was the only Ladies European Tour Access Series event scheduled in the United Kingdom.
The PGA’s chief executive, Sandy Jones, commented: "We had been discussing with LET for some time the concept and creation of this event. I am also very pleased to say that it was presented at Stoke by Nayland, a venue that is well known to us and has partnered the PGA on many past occasions to stage great golf events.”
Situated in a stunning “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” on the Suffolk/Essex border, Stoke by Nayland has the experience of staging worldwide televised European Challenge Tour, European Senior Tour and PGA Europro events, the family owners were excited about gracing the international golf stage once more as the only UK destination on the 2013 LETAS schedule.
Among the golfers looking for a share of the £25,000 prize fund was former Solheim Cup winning captain and US Women’s Open champion Alison Nicholas. Now a fully qualified PGA Professional, Nicholas, who was awarded an MBE in 1997 for her services to golf, will serve as a reminder of the rewards that can follow success at this level of the sport.
Also competing was Lucy Williams who captured the Glenmuir Women’s PGA Professional Championship earlier in the year and reigning WPGA One Day Series winner Joanne Oliver from knebworth who was at the top of the Order of Merit.
Local rising amateur, and member of Stoke by Nayland since her early teens, Hannah Moul also received a guest pass to play in the event. Although she didn’t make the cut, Hannah benefitted from the experience gained from playing in this high profile WPGA and LETAS championship in such esteemed company.
In addition to England, Scotland and Wales, 19 countries have representatives in the tournament which is the only Ladies European Tour Access (LETAS) event scheduled in the United Kingdom.
LETAS is the official the official feeder tour to the Ladies European Tour and the top five in the rankings at the end of the season will be offered membership.