EIGHTEEN years after winning the event under her maiden name of Monaghan, Hilary Wardell is an intriguing entry in the qualifying for the Scottish Women’s Championship starting today at Longniddry, where she will enjoy home advantage.
While a lack of top-class competition over the past decade or so is likely to make it extremely difficult for the 38-year-old to repeat that triumph at Portpatrick, her game is believed to be in decent shape heading into the SLGA’s flagship event and a place in the match-play phase is certainly an achieveable target.
Alford’s Laura Murray, winner at Tain 12 months ago, has since turned professional, as has Nairn Dunbar’s Kelsey MacDonald, who lifted the title at Craigielaw three years ago, the last time the event was held in East Lothian. With Pitreavie’s Louise Kenney, the winner at Machrihanish in 2011, another absentee, the door could be open for youngsters like Elderslie’s Alyson McKechin or Jessica Meek of Carnoustie Ladies.
McKechin underlined her potential by finishing joint-second in the recent Helen Holm Trophy at Troon while Meek has been more than holding her own against the pros in the opening few events on the Scottish Ladies Open Tour.
North Berwick’s Clara Young will also be aiming to make her presence felt on East Lothian soil while Eilidh Briggs (Kilmacolm) and Jane Turner from Craigielaw are both bidding to go one better after falling at the final hurdle in the past two years.
The top 32 after two rounds qualify for the championship with the next 16 going into the Clark Rosebowl.