IN terms of build and also her long, plaited ponytail, Annabel Dimmock looks a bit like Charley Hull. She also plays the same aggressive golf as her compatriot. It set up the 17-year-old’s wire-to-wire victory in the Helen Holm Scottish Open Stroke Play Championship as she held off Connie Jaffrey, the host club’s hope, at Troon.
Five ahead after two rounds on the Portland course, Dimmock, a product of an excellent scholarship programme at Wentworth, signed off with a two-under 73 on Royal Troon for an 11-under-par total of 214. It gave her a three-shot victory over fellow 17-year-old Jaffrey (71), who, in turn, finished the same margin ahead of Irish 16-year-old Olivia Mehaffey (68).
“The opening two rounds were more enjoyable than this one as Connie played really well and that meant I had to be on my game from the off,” said Dimmock, who won the Jones Doherty Challenge Cup on the Orange Blossom circuit in Florida earlier this year before teaming up with club-mate Steven Brown to claim the Sunningdale Foursomes crown.
On a pleasant day on the Ayrshire coast, Dimmock had stretched her lead to six over Jaffrey after going out in 35. Her only wobble on the Open venue’s infamous back nine came at the 11th, where a wayward tee shot found a gorse bush.
“I got caught up in the moment by trying to play it from there, but had an air shot,” she reported afterwards. “I should have taken my punishment and, in the end, I was pleased to limit the damage to just a bogey by two-putting from 20 yards.”
When she repeated the feat from a similar distance to save par at the 16th, the door had been slammed shut on Jaffrey, who’d got within three of her playing partner with four holes to play to raise hopes of a first Scottish success in the event since Heather Stirling in 2002.
Dimmock’s victory has put her in contention for the Great Britain & Ireland team to defend the Curtis Cup in St Louis in early June.
“That wasn’t something I was thinking about at the start of the season, but this is definitely now my chance. I think I’ll need to rely on a captain’s pick though,” she noted of a process that will see four players come off the world rankings, two from the LGU Order of Merit and two selections. “The captain [Tegwen Matthews] was out watching me when I shot five-under in the opening round,” she added.
Along with just about every other young girl golfer in the British Isles, she’s been inspired by Hull, who helped Europe win the Solheim Cup on US soil for the first time last year and, just a few weeks before her 18th birthday, recorded a maiden professional victory in Morocco.
“Charley has really opened our eyes by showing that the gap between the top of the amateur and professional game isn’t as big as you might think,” said the winner. “She’s just a natural, but it’s ridiculous how well she’s done. I know her quite well and am normally an aggressive player like her.”
Based on this performance, Jaffrey can be the toast of Troon Ladies one day in the event it stages annually. “These have been the best three rounds I’ve had over these two courses,” said the reigning Scottish Girls’ champion, who is heading off to Kansas State University in August to start a four-year scholarship.
Mehaffey’s closing effort was the lowest round of the championship. Flawless, it contained five birdies and an eagle, which came courtesy of a 15-footer at the 15th. “I shot eight-under to win the Cork Scratch Cup recently, but this is definitely one of the best rounds of my career,” admitted the Royal County Down player.