Schoolgirl Young makes grade in Women’s Championship

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CLARA Young may have to wait for the results of two Highers but the North Berwick teenager has already passed one test this week after safely qualifying for the matchplay phase of the Midlothian Women’s Championship at Longniddry.

After spending the morning sitting her Biology Higher, having also gone through a similar process on Tuesday, the East Lothian champion carded a second-round 72 to finish fourth on 154, signing off with a flourish as she bagged three birdies in the closing four holes.

The 16-year-old North Berwick High School pupil said: “I’ve another three Highers to go but no more this week, thank goodness.”

Jessica Meek (Carnoustie Ladies) and Rachel Walker (Dumfries & County) swapped their overnight positions to finish first and second respectively among the 32 qualifiers.

Meek, leading the Paul Lawrie Scottish Ladies Open Tour Order of Merit, started with two birdies and added three more – at the 15th, 17th and 18th – in her 71 for 147. “I came into the Championship with the goal of qualifying, so to lead after the strokeplay is special,” admitted the 19-year-old. “But it is the matchplay that really counts.”

A potential banana skin lies in wait for Meek on the East Lothian coast this morning after mutiple Midlothian champion Claire Hargan (St Regulus) came through a play-off along with Jemma Chalmers (Monifieth) for the final two spots.

Walker finished second on 151, one in front of Jane Turner, last year’s beaten finalist at Tain. “I was much more consistent today,” said Turner after her three-birdie round. “But, although I am a member at nearby Craigielaw, I have not played many times at Longniddry. Maybe just once as a junior.

“I’ve had a fairly average start to the season so I’m hoping to play better in the matchplay.”

Former champion and host club player Hilary Wardell shot 76 to qualify sixth on 156. She is only playing in the SLGA’s flagship event again because it is her home course. “I was sort of bullied into it,” said the mum of two. “The goal was to qualify and so now the pressure is off a little.

“I’m not expecting anything in the matchplay as I’ve played only one medal this year. Today I was three-over-par after four holes but dug in and managed to grind out a decent score.”