Cowley hangs on after Rose big guns misfire
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