Cow­ley hangs on af­ter Rose big guns mis­fire

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By James Corrigan

With three dropped shots in the fi­nal three holes, Gabriella Cow­ley feared she had blown the op­portu- nity to de­feat the likes of Charley Hull and Ge­or­gia Hall in the Rose Ladies Se­ries yes­ter­day.

But if a golfer needs to dig deep any­where, it is clearly on the run-in at the JCB Coun­try Club and af­ter a four-hour wait, Cow­ley, the 24-year-old from Es­sex, could fi­nally savour what she called “the best day of my ca­reer so far”.

A two-un­der-par 70 was good enough for the player ranked 576th in the world to see off Hull, the world No 25, and Hall, the 2018 Women’s Bri­tish Open cham­pion, who fin­ished along­side an­other English­woman in Annabel Dim­mock, as well as Scot­land’s Heather MacRae, Wales’s Chloe Wil­liams and the Aus­tralian Whit­ney Hil­lier.

Cow­ley, who played in the 2014 Cur­tis Cup with Hall, had made steady progress in the first four events of the se­ries, with a third, two ninths and a 12th. Yet even though this Ladies Euro­pean Tour pro was plainly “trend­ing”, there were few tip­ping her to pre­vail over such a strong field.

Yet by play­ing the first 15 holes in five un­der, this highly pop­u­lar char­ac­ter had given her­self enough of a cush­ion.

“It was a ner­vous wait in the club­house, and I was ob­vi­ously dis­ap­pointed with my fin­ish but I never lost hope,” she said. “I had my dad, Carl, on the bag and it was a bril­liant day from which I’ll take a lot of con­fi­dence.”

Hall and Hull both left the stun­ning Stafford­shire lay­out be­moan­ing dou­ble bo­geys on the back nine. Hull was hold­ing the lead on four un­der af­ter a birdie on the 12th, but there fol­lowed a seven on the parfive 13th and her charge was de­railed. A bogey on the 15th fur­ther eroded her ear­lier good work, al­though she fared well to par the last three holes, clearly the tough­est patch on this new course.

Cer­tainly, Hall saw her charge de­mol­ished at the de­noue­ment. Play­ing with Cow­ley, her long-time friend, the world No 39 ad­vanced to four un­der par af­ter a birdie on the de­mand­ing 16th and with just two re­main­ing seemed all over the win­ner. But a miss-club on the parthree 17th saw her fly the green and that er­ror cost her a shot.

Worse was to fol­low. Hall ob­vi­ously did not know it at the time, but she only re­quired a par up the last to win, with even a five good enough for a play-off. With a split fair­way, the par-four 18th hap­pens to be a brute. Hall man­aged to find the rough in be­tween and was forced to lay up. There was noth­ing wrong with her sec­ond, but she all but duffed her 40-yard ap­proach and three-putted for a dou­ble bogey.

Hull takes over at the top of the Amer­i­can Golf Or­der of Merit, with Cow­ley ef­fec­tively in sec­ond be­cause of Gemma Dry­burgh, win­ner of the two pre­vi­ous events, trav­el­ling to the United States to play on the LPGA Tour.

Fam­ily for­tunes: Gabriella Cow­ley with fa­ther Carl, who was her cad­die

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