Woodsome Hall’s Rochelle Morris continues to rise up England Golf Order of Merit

Woodsome Hall's Rochelle Morris plays as six-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo looks on. Morris was the 2012 Faldo Series champion.
Woodsome Hall's Rochelle Morris plays as six-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo looks on. Morris was the 2012 Faldo Series champion.
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WOODSOME HALL’S Rochelle Morris heads for Wednesday’s Pleasington Putter having produced several pleasing performances as she attempts to catch the eye of England’s selectors.

The 2014 Yorkshire women’s champion finished second last week in the English women’s amateur championship at Hunstanton.

Yorkshire county player Rochelle Morris has climbed to 11th in England Golf's Order of Merit.

Yorkshire county player Rochelle Morris has climbed to 11th in England Golf's Order of Merit.

This reinforced the good impression she had made earlier in the month when she reached the quarter-finals of the English women’s match play championship at Trentham, losing to eventual winner Sophie Keech, of Parkstone.

Her match play performance complemented her performance in the stroke play qualifying for the latter event, when she placed second after rounds of 73 and 72.

Add in her excellent displays for Yorkshire at last month’s Northern Counties Match Week, when Morris was unbeaten in singles and lost just once in the foursomes, and she appears well on the way to her stated ambition of adding English senior representative honours to her achievement of being in the Under-16 national team.

Not that Morris is looking any further ahead than the Pleasington Putter - or indeed her opening tee shot in the National Listed event in Blackburn.

For the 20-year-old tries, and generally succeeds, in concentrating on one shot at a time, as was proved last week when she was able to bear down and grind through four rounds at Hunstanton despite defending champion Bronte Law’s opening 63 making it almost inevitable that Morris and the rest of the field were playing for second place.

“It was a good week and I was pleased with second,” said Morris. “For anyone to catch up after the first round they were going to have to be pretty good.

“I was just trying to play my own game, just playing one shot at a time. I’ve known Bronte for years and she is just so good. She is No 3 amateur in the world and she was defending her title, so going into it she was gunning for birdies all the time.

“She was playing behind me and firing for everything so I could see what was going on. I was just playing my own game and trying to shoot a good score.”

Morris carded 71 72 72 76 while Bramhall’s Law returned scores of 63 69 69 74.

“I was playing pretty solid and I birdied a few, but it was a tough course,” continued Morris. “In the last round it was really windy and tough and even Bronte shot two over. I think one over was the best score for the last round so the standard scratch really went high. My 76 was certainly no disaster.”

The English match play championship she views with a tinge of ruefulness that the golfing gods were not on her side.

“I was a bit disappointed to get knocked out in the quarters of the match play,” she said. “I was leading in the middle of the back nine and then Sophie had a chip-in to win one hole, followed by a good birdie. It came at the wrong time as I had no real chance to respond, but it was a good week and a good experience for me. I enjoyed it.”

Morris has been coached from her formative years in the sport by Woodsome Hall professional John Eyre, originally at Crosland Heath.

“John switched to Woodsome from Crosland Heath and I followed him a couple of years later,” she explained. “He has been coaching me for about 11 years. I suppose he saw when I was nine that I had potential.”

Morris’s father Roger is a fine player, having reached three handicap at one stage. Daughter Rochelle is now plus two after her displays at Hunstanton last week while her father has slipped back to five. Not surprising given all the time he devotes to her game, chauffering and caddying.

Although she does not recall feeling any excitement at reaching scratch – a golfing plateau beyond even the wildest dreams of the overwhelming majority of amateur players – she does remember being excited when she got to plus figures.

However, excitement is not something she displays outwardly, as she has often been reminded.

“When I was younger people used to ask if I was enjoying it because I don’t really show emotion even if I get a birdie,” said Morris. “I am really focused and I don’t get really excited or really mad on the course.”

Her placid and pragmatic nature probably played a part in the fine season she is enjoying for she had the patience last year not to rush back from injury.

“I was doing some work with the medicine ball last July and I think I did too much,” she recalled. “It meant I didn’t actually play any summer competitions as I had damaged my rotary cuff in my shoulder.

“I had physiotherapy on it and I just needed a few weeks off to get it sorted. I thought I would pull back from playing so it would be right this year.”

Her decision is paying off and she currently sits among the top dozen players in England Golf’s Order of Merit, in 11th, two places behind Yorkshire county team-mate Olivia Winning (Rotherham).

Which means that a call to represent England should be beckoning soon – not that Morris is considering anything other than her first shot at 7.52am at Pleasington GC on Wednesday.