HANNAH RALPH has told of her delight at securing a return to the Ladies’ European Tour.
The Cowdray Park GC touring pro returns to a circuit she last sampled in 2010 after coming through some tough qualifying rounds before Christmas.
Ralph attended the Ladies’ European Tour School in December and had her friend and mind coach Karen Francis caddying for her.
Pre-qualifying was held over four days in Rabat. There were three groups of players and Ralph played in the first one, meaning she could return home befroe final qualifying.
She said: “The aim at pre-qualifying was to make the cut after the four rounds to go through to final qualifying in Marrakech in mid-December.
“The course was just under 6,700 yards long and very tough. You had to be accurate, able to hit a variety of shots and focus 100 per cent on every shot!
“With rounds of 78, 77, 72 and 79, I finished in second place out of 41 players on 306, with the winner shooting 300. So I comfortably made the cut.
“The highlight was in round three where I finished with a birdie and an eagle - the eagle coming after holing a wedge shot on the par-five18th. With not a lot going my way in that round, it was a sense of relief and joy when it went in!”
In Marrakech, the format was the same - there was a cut after four rounds but there were two separate fields - A and B.
Ralph added: “I was drawn in Field B and it was top 60 and ties from both fields to go through to the fifth and final round. There were a total of 92 players.
“We played on two courses, Al Maaden and Samanah. Each field alternated over the four days and the pars were the same on both courses, 72.
“I started on Al Maaden and with scores of 69, 76, 71 and 75 and qualified for the final round in 35th place with a score of three over for four rounds. “The top 30 after the final round would earn a full tour card for the 2014 season. This is key to gaining a lot of starts on tour. In the final round, on Samanah, I shot two under and moved up to tied 23rd!
“I had to wait more than two hours after I had finished to know for definite whether I had made top 30. Karen couldn’t sit still. Then finally we had confirmation we had done it!
“Having won my first pro tournament in September on the LET Access Series and had a couple of other decent results, to gain my card has topped off a good year.”
Ralph can’t wait to get back on the Tour and enjoying the whole experience.
“I have learned so much about myself and my golf since playing on it in 2010 so it’s going to be nice to have the chance to right some wrongs hopefully,” she said.
“Karen has been amazing over the past three years and has played a big part in my successes. I’ve also had great support from Cowdray Park Golf Club.”
Ralph is seeking sponsorship - if anyone is interested in backing her, they should visit www.hannahralphgolf.co.uk
Cowdray Park travelled to face leaders Hankley Common for their latest Surrey & West Sussex Winter League.
The hosts fielded a very strong side in their quest to extend their advantage at the top of the table but they met stern resistance from the current champions, with the match ending in a 2-2 draw.
Cowdray’s opening duo of match captain Phil Harrison and in-form Ken Marjoram ran out convincing winners by 5&4, thanks in no little way to their outstanding display of putting.
The second match was close-fought with the Hankley pair edging home by 2&1 to level the match before they took the lead with a stunning 7&6 win. Cowdray’s final pair of Dave Lucking and Rob Doney held firm in a close match and saw off their opponents 3&1 to earn their side a draw.
At the Christmas/new-year break coming, Hankley Common sit on top of the pile with 13 points from six matches. In second place are 2012 champions Puttenham with 12 points, also from six games, followed by Guildford in third with 10.5 points from five games.
Cowdray Park are in fourth with 9.5 points from just four games. It is to be hoped that the weather does not take a turn for the worse and prevent matches being played.
Results (Cowdray names first): Phil Harrison & Ken Marjoram beat Bill McCall & Alasdair Cockburn 5&4; Phil Cummins & Roger Poat lost to Michael Kfouri & Tom Murphy 2&1: Brian Street & David Gaff lost to Mike Fulker & Philip Payne 7&6; Dave Lucking & Rob Doney beat Phil Raybone & Colin Osborne 3&1.
Cowdray Park seniors’ December Stableford signalled the start of the new year for the Eclectic Trophy standings.
The first scores registered highlighted the difference in scoring patterns for the Stableford and the Eclectic.
Harvey Terry and Alistair Proctor shared first position in the Stableford but when the scores were applied to the Eclectic, Terry was still top of the tree while Alistair Proctor was at number ten, 6.5 points behind.
In the Eclectic, only half the handicap allowance is taken into consideration, and the hole stroke index does not come into play.
Following his recent pair of holes in one, Tony Pike holds second place from Gordon Kendall, who finished high in last year’s Eclectic.
With conditions difficult, only two players beat par and birdies were in short supply with only eight players achieving them. Apart from Harvey Terry with two, Brian Carpenter also scored two while Dave Hirons scored four.
Cowdray Park seniors took advantage of a rare break in the bad weather to complete the first round of the Captain’s Prize and blow away the cobwebs following a long break from golf over the Christmas and new-year period.
The format of this competition is singles Stableford, with partners’ scores on the day added together and each player carrying their own individual score forward.
The overall winner is the player with the best three scores over the four rounds. The course was wet from the recent storms but perfectly playable, with three temporary greens and two temporary tees in place on the wettest parts of the course.
Despite most players not having played since before Christmas, scoring was better than in December’s Stableford, thanks in no little way to the receptive greens.
Winning pair on the day were Jan de Vries and Phil Harrison with 76 points, continuing their fine form from 2013. Second with 75 were Ken Marjoram, who won three events last year, and John Sanderson, while third went to Ian Heustice and Terry Jasper also with 75.
Special mention must be made of Dave Hirons, who is still recovering from a serious stomach operation yet walked for 18 holes for the first time as buggies were not allowed, and was only of four players who scored a two.
Leading scores: 40pts - Nick Austin; Phil Harrison; John Newman; 39 - Sam Howes; 38 - John Sanderson, Terry Jasper, John Lee.
Downpours did not deter 104 players enjoying their golf on a fully-open course with some interesting obstacles and pin positions.
Christmas Capers is one of many fun days at Littlehampton, with the bonus of a substantial contribution to the captains’ charities.
The ‘animal onesie’ team of Stuart Fallow, Wayne Hodder, Will Illsley and Darren Maynard were named best fancy-dressed team and won the golf competition too.
Club captain Carl Stabler thanked guests, members and staff for making it an enjoyable day.