Golf: 1995 champion Wardell qualifies for flagship event

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HOST-club hope Hilary Wardell was one of the few exceptions as the young guns dominated qualifying for the Scottish Women’s Championship at Longniddry.

Wardell, wife of Whitekirk pro Paul, won the SLGA’s flagship event under her maiden name of Monaghan at Portpatrick 18 years ago.

She’s played little competitive golf since becoming a mum and had to have her arm twisted to play this week. However, the 38-year-old progressed safely to the matchplay phase, finishing joint sixth on 156 after a second-round total of 76.

“I was sort of bullied into it,” said the mum of two of her appearance in the event. “The goal was to qualify and so now the pressure is off a little.”

Facing Nichola Robertson of Dunblane New in the first round today, Wardell added: “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.”

Craigielaw’s Jane Turner and Clara Young from North Berwick both finished ahead of Wardell after two testing days of competition on the East 
Lothian coast.

Turner, the beaten finalist at Tain 12 months ago, carded a second-round 74 to finish third on 152, two shots ahead of Young. “I was much more consistent today,” said Turner after compiling a round that contained three birdies.

But, although her home club is close to this week’s venue, the Scotland internationalist doesn’t necessarily feel she has got much of an advantage. “I’ve not actually played many times at Longniddry,” she admitted. “Maybe just once as a junior.”

Young’s second-round 72 was a superb effort considering the North Berwick High School 
pupil had sat her Biology 
Higher earlier in the day.

The 16-year-old, who also had an exam before her opening round, bagged five birdies, including the 15th, 16th and 18th.

“I’m really pleased with my score,” she declared and can now concentrate on winning this title without burying her head in books at the same time.

“I’ve got another three Highers to go but no more this week thank goodness,” she added.

Carnoustie’s Jessica Meek led the 32 qualifiers after following an opening 76 with a splendid three-under-par 71.

The 19-year-old, who is leading the Paul Lawrie Scottish Ladies Open Tour Order of Merit, started with two birdies and also picked up shots at the 15th, 17th and 18th. “I came into the Championship with the goal of qualifying so to lead after the strokeplay is special,” she declared. “But it is the matchplay that really counts.”

Overnight leader Rachel Walker (Dumfries & County) was second qualifier on 151 after three-putting the 18th – her fourth bogey of the back 

Broomieknowe’s Hannah Scott, the newly-crowned Midlothian champion, qualified safely on 157, two shots ahead of clubmate Kate McIntosh.

Former Midlothian champion Claire Hargan scraped through after a play-off along with 
Monifieth’s Katie Reid. They both birdied the par-5 second to eliminate Sheena Wood (Aberdeen Ladies). Monifieth’s Jemma Chalmers had dropped out at the first hole.

“I missed a two-foot putt at the first in the play-off so nice to make it,” said Hargan, whose reward was a first-round clash with leading qualifier Meek.

Baberton’s Karen Marshall had to be content with a place in the consolation Clark Rosebowl but, after two rare off days, experienced Broomieknowe player Wendy Nicholson made an early exit.