Tracy Atkin, of Leamington, won the Warwickshire Ladies Championship for the fifth time at Edgbaston last evening. Or for the second time in her new life.
As a 17-year-old, Tracy first won this hotlycontested event 26 years ago. Two more victories and she had turned professional.
But to her own immense satisfaction, her reinstatement has been decidedly conspicuous. It was marked by a victory in the Warwickshire five years ago and, having lost in the final last year, she is now a very happy golfer. " Winning this means everything to me," she said. "County golf gives so much pleasure."
The pleasure now is heightened by the fact that the woman she defeated 4&3 in yesterday's final was Claire Dowling, the outstandingly gritty golfer who beat her last year and who won the title the year before that.
Few women golfers can match Mrs Dowling's pedigree. As Claire Hourihane, she first played for Ireland in 1979 and has been an inveterate collector of
trophies ever since. She's a multiple winner of the Warwickshire, now sponsored by Rydale Central, a five times winner of the Irish Ladies Closed, she won the British Amateur in I986 and has appeared in the Curtis Cup five times.
Having battled mightily to reach the final, she said after it: "Six rounds in three days was one round too many for me."
She and Tracy, though, are soon to become foursomes partners in Warwickshire's renewed quest for the County Championship. As one admiring observer put it: "Tracy was long off the tee, consistent with her irons and her putting was fantastic."
She was several under par when Dowling capitulated.
In the semi-finals Dowling beat Claire Howell, of Moor Hall. Both were below par when Mrs Dowling prevailed on the 18th green. Atkin defeated 18-year-old Felicity Johnson, of Harborne, 3&1.