Chloe Goadby finally mastered the transition from stroke-play to match-play in the Scottish Women’s Amateur Championship and is feeling quietly confident about her title hopes at Elie this week thanks partly to having been coaxed out of her “comfort zone” by former European Tour winner Dean Robertson.
The St Regulus player had suffered first-round exits in the event the previous two years after being third then top seed after two qualifying rounds, so wasn’t getting carried away after carding excellent efforts of 67 and 70 at the Fife venue to find herself ranked No 1 again for the head-to-head phase.
There was no early exit on this occasion, though, as Goadby won her opening two matches in the glorious summmer sunshine to set up a quarter-final clash with Craigielaw’s Gabrielle Macdonald, the 2014 champion and a finalist for a second time two years later.
Carnoustie’s Ailsa Summers, the winner on that occasion, is also still in the title hunt this time around, as are the in-form Hannah McCook and 18-year-old Jasmine Mackintosh, who claimed the biggest scalp of her career so far in knocking out defending champion Connie Jaffrey.
In truth, it is arguably the best last-eight line up for the event for some time as the Scottish girls’ and women’s amateur game enjoys something of a purple patch, with Goadby playing a prominent part in that and determined to now go the distance this week.
“It would be great to be crowned Scottish champion, so that would be a goal this year or sometime in the future, I’d love to have it at some point. I feel I’m playing well, so I hope I can give it my best effort this week,” she said after feeling pleased to have come out on top in a hard-fought second-round clash with Louise Duncan of West Kilbride.
Duncan had earlier accounted for Clara Young, the 2015 champion and last year’s beaten finalist, and proved a tough nut to crack but, helped by a brilliant second at the 17th from a horrible downhill lie, Goadby got there in the end. “Match-play is so different and we don’t get to play it much,” she added.
Watching on, as he has done with so many of the players he has worked with over the past six years as a mentor, was Robertson, the former Italian Open champion who now fills the role of the University of Stirling’s high performance golf coach. His influence over the past three years on Goadby has has been massive.
“Coming to Stirling, I didn’t know how much I had to learn. But Dean’s been a great help in the way I think,” she admitted. “If you can think better than anyone else out there you have a head start. He has so much knowledge from being on Tour and being able to see shots and visualise shots.
“He’s great at pushing me out of my comfort zone and getting me to try shots, and more often than not I pull them off, which does wonders for your confidence.”
McCook’s confidence is sky high after she won both the Irish and Welsh Women’s Open Stroke-Play Championships in the build up to this event. “I’ve had things planned out for a while for this event - the successes I’ve had so far this season have been big bonuses!” declared the Grantown-on-Spey player.
She was involved in arguably the best match of the day against Milngavie’s Lorna McClymont, with McCook eventually prevailing thanks to a birdie at the first extra hole. “That was a great match,” said McCook afterwards. “I was seven-under and the better-ball was 12-under. It was always going to be a great victory for either of us.”
Aiming to add three more, starting with a last-eight clash with Jennifer Saxton, who recovered from a lost ball with her opening tee shot to beat Broomieknowe’s Hannah Darling, she added: “There are a lot of us playing well at the moment and whoever comes out on top this week will have thoroughly have deserved the victory.”
Mackintosh won at the sixth extra hole against Strathaven’s Molly Richmond before ending Jaffrey’s reign as champion with a 4&3 afternoon win. “I was two down with two to play this morning but birdied the last two holes,” said Hazlehead 18-year-old Mackintosh. “I then had half an hour to grab some lunch so was delighted to beat Connie in a good match. I started for home with three birdies in a row, winning two of those holes, and that burst helped me secure a really good win.”