Monday, May 19, 2014
Joanne Herd lifted the Norfolk Ladies Amateur Championship trophy in impressive fashion at Eaton yesterday – just seven months after moving to the county.
The 25-year-old from Royal Norwich became one of a select band of players to win the title at the first time of asking when she beat talented junior Ellie Brown 5&4 in the final.
Herd was quick to pursue her love of golf when her work as a manager for Marks and Spencer brought her to Norfolk – and she will be a huge asset for the county if she maintains the sort of form she displayed on her Championship debut.
The real fireworks from Herd came in her morning semi-final against senior international Jo Ashmore when she opened up with four straight birdies and went on to beat an opponent who was playing well herself 5&4.
The final produced the same result - but the standard of golf was not quite as high from either player, with 14-year old Brown unable to repeat the excellent play that had accounted for another former winner Karen Young in the last four - and Herd also struggling for consistency.
“I was really pleased with the way I played in the semi-final and it was always going to be difficult to maintain that standard,” said the former Essex and Cambridgeshire county player. “I just played steady golf in the final and fortunately that was enough. This is my first county title and I am absolutely delighted to have won it. Ellie is a good young player and kept battling away but I was always ahead and managed to pull away at the end.”
With the sun beating down and a slight breeze keeping the players on their toes it was five handicapper Herd who immediately established her authority.
She won the first two holes with solid pars as her Barnham Broom opponent made a couple of errors – but it was not until the sixth that she had her two-hole lead back again.
Brown struck a gorgeous approach shot before sinking an eight foot putt for a birdie at the third to close the gap and, after losing the fourth, then found the heart of the fifth green with another accurate iron to grab another win.
With Herd just one up after five it was still anyone’s final, with neither player really firing on all cylinders - and it was a similar story at the turn, even though the newcomer then led by two.
Brown had been three down after eight but reduced the arrears at the short ninth courtesy of an impressive escape from a greenside bunker while her opponent was struggling to a five.
Sadly for a good sized crowd their hopes of witnessing a nailbiting back nine then quickly disappeared, with Herd winning three straight holes to move 5 up with six to play. The highlight of her round came at the 152 yard 11th when a brilliant tee shot landed within three feet of the pin to set up a birdie two - but it only required solid play for her to win 10 and 12. To be fair to young Brown she kept battling to the end, and produced a magical tee shot of her own at the next short hole, the 13th, to keep the match going.
But the end came at the 316 yard 14th when the junior came out second best in a putting contest and her more experienced opponent could celebrate a well deserved victory.