LONG-hitting Megan Garland had to plot a long route through the match play stages before lifting her first Yorkshire ladies championship, at Huddersfield GC.
Selby GC’s Garland defeated three-time Curtis Cup player Emma Brown (Malton & Norton GC) 3&1 in the final, but had needed extra holes in two of her previous three encounters.
That included going to the 22nd hole in the semi-final before ending defending champion Megan Lockett’s hopes of a repeat triumph at her home club.
Twenty-three-year-old Garland, who had her mother Steph caddying in the absence of her unwell grandfather Jack, had also been taken to two extra holes by a stunning back-nine display from 13-year-old Libby Kilbride (Renishaw Park GC) on Saturday.
She then defeated club-mate Ellie Goodall 2&1 in the final eight to set up the last-four encounter with Lockett, who will rue missing a short putt at 16 when leading by two holes. Garland won that hole, and the 18th after hitting the par-5 green in two, and a superb tee shot to within four feet set up a winning birdie at hole 22.
Brown, whose extensive list of honours includes three county titles, had turned around a two-hole deficit against Lightcliffe GC’s Hannah Holden in the last eight to set up a semi-final with new Curtis Cup player Rochelle Morris, of Woodsome Hall GC.
In this tie, too, she drew level from a two-hole deficit and although Morris showed commendable nerve to hole a 20ft birdie putt at the last to extend the match – the ball striking the back of the cup and popping up in the air before finding the cup – Brown won at the 19th.
The high quality of play and sportsmanship in the final then echoed the standards that had been on show throughout the weekend at Fixby.
Garland went ahead after an approach shot to four feet led to a birdie at the second, and moved two up at the next.
However, the former Daytona State and Arkansas State student missed the green at the short fourth, losing it to a par, and three-putted the fifth to put the match back to all-square once again.
It remained that way through six and seven before Brown suffered misfortune at the eighth.
Her tee shot at the par-3 hole hit the top of a bunker protecting the front of the green and rolled all the way back to a position from which she could only play out sideways.
It led to Garland returning to one up, but Brown responded once more to be level at halfway.
After halves at holes 10 and 11, the Selby player made what proved to be a decisive move by winning holes 12 and 14.
It gave her the impetus to lay her hands on the trophy by winning the short 17th to close out her 3&1 win.
Yorkshire’s selectors will have been buoyed by the quality of play, which included Morris setting a new ladies course record in qualifying, as they consider their choices for match county week.