Ireland’s Martina Gillen from Cavan maintained her overnight lead in even tougher conditions of wind and rain to win the Murcia Ladies Open professional golf championship over the Dave Thomas-designed course at Hacienda del Alamo Golf Resort in south-east Spain yesterday.
Martina followed up her opening round of two-over-par 74 with a 77 for a seven-over-par total of 151 to win by four shots from Welsh rookie pro Natasha Morgan, who lives near Ryder Cup venue Celtic Manor.
“This is a very long course and when the wind is in your face, as it seems to be at the longish par-4s, it is almost impossible to get up in two,” said Martina.
“You cannot fly the bunkers in the landing areas when the wind is in your face and I would rate just about the most difficult course I’ve come across yet, given the wind we’ve had over the past two days.
“There was even rain as well today so you just had to soldier on. It’s nice to win whatever the tournament, whatever the country and let’s hope it’s the first of a few victories in 2008.”
Martina is a former Curtis Cup player and past Irish amateur champion.
Natasha Morgan has spent the past four years at Lynn University in Florida and turned pro after graduating. She has played as an amateur on the US Futures Tour and plans to go back there until the Ladies European Tour Qualifying School comes around again near the end of the year.
Natasha had creditable rounds of 76 and 79 for 155. But for double bogeys at the first and seventh – two of the long par-4s referred to by Martina Gillen (who had double bogeys herself at the sixth and short 15th) – for an outward 41, she might have put playing partner Martina under pressure over the tough closing holes.
There was a success for Wales in the amateur scratch division with Rhian Wyn Thomas (Vale of Glamorgan) winning by seven shots with scores of 75 and 78 for 153.
Clubmate Anna Carling was runner-up with 85 and 75 for 160. To improve by 10 shots in even more difficult conditions on the second day left Anna rueing her first day effort.
Twelve-year-old Amber Ratcliffe (Royal Cromer) won the amateur handicap title with a net two-round total of 146 off a handicap of 18. She had two battling rounds of gross 91 to win this section by 20 shots from Hacienda del Alamo Golf Resort resident Vikki Smith.
Kirsten MacCallum, 14-year-old junior member at McDonald Golf Club, Ellon in Aberdeenshire, finished the leading girl with net total of 158 off 20 of a handicap.
Azmina Desmond (Hollywood Lakes, Belfast) claimed the senior prize with a net total of 175 off 11.
SCOREBOARD - MURCIA LADIES OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
Par 144 (2 x 72)
151 M Gillen (Ire) 74 77.
155 N Morgan (Wal) 76 79.
161 C Coughlan (Ire) 82 79.
163 L Diggle (Wal) 84 79.
164 L Willems (Bel) 81 83.
167 J Wilson (Sco) 83 84.
171 M Martin (Spa) 88 83.
Retired: M Riordan (Ire) 90 -
153 R W Thomas (Vale of Glamorgan) 75 78.
160 A Carling (Vale of Glamorgan) 85 75.
167 S Carty (The Island, Dublin) 83 84.
176 V Smith (Hacienda del Alamo) 94 82.
182 A Ratcliffe (Royal Cromer) 91 91.
184 C Murphy (Grange, Dublin) 96 98.
198 K MacCallum (McDonald Ellon) 96 102.
206 G Jennings (Navan) 103 103.
219 E Higgins (Laytown/Bettystown) 105 114
223 M Rooney (Navan) 114 109.
229 P Sheeran (Navan) 114 115.
244 M McAree (Navan) 122 122
146 A Ratcliffe (Royal Cromer) (18) 73 73.
149 R W Thomas (Vale of Glamorgan) (2) 73 76.
152 A Carling (Vale of Glamorgan) (4) 81 71.
155 K MacCallum (McDonald Ellon) (20) 76 82.
159 S Carty (The Island, Dublin) (4) 79 80.
166 V Smith (Hacienda del Alamo) (5) 89 77,
C Murphy (Grange, Dublin) (9) 87 79.
182 G Jennings (Navan) (12) 91 91.
183 M Rooney (Navan) (20) 94 89.
189 P Sheeran (Navan) (20) 94 95.
193 E Higgins (Laytown/Bettystown) (13) 92 101.
204 M McAree (Navan) (20) 102 102.
Source: COLIN FARQUHARSON