Rotherham’s Winning into English open match play last four

Rotherham's Olivia Winning pictured in action at Royal Mid Surrey (Picture: Leaderboard Photography).
Rotherham's Olivia Winning pictured in action at Royal Mid Surrey (Picture: Leaderboard Photography).
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ROTHERHAM’S Olivia Winning knocked out the top seed on her way to the semi-finals of the English women’s open match play championship at Royal Mid-Surrey.

It had required a marathon game of 23 holes and an albatross to decide Saturday’s final-four line-up.

The first game will see two England internationals go head to head, with Winning taking on Lizzie Prior (Burhill), who played 41 holes on Friday to reach the final four.

The other match features Cara Gainer (Castle Royle), who decided her first-round game by holing her second shot on the par-5 17th, and Sophie Newlove (Beeston Fields), who played just 28 holes on Friday.

Winning was the 16th and final qualifier for the match play stages of the championship. But the international knew she was playing well and is vastly experienced, having helped England to become European team champions last year. She has also twice won the Helen Holm Scottish Open stroke play.

In the morning she tumbled the top seed, Hannah Screen (Berkhamsted). A birdie on the 17th put her ahead before she confirmed a two-hole win.

“It was a really good game and we both played really well,” said Winning, who was never behind.

In the quarter-finals she faced England Under-16 international Mimi Rhodes (Burnham & Berrow) and hit her with six birdies as she marched to a 5&3 win.

“I played the kind of golf that’s hard to beat; it was good,” said Winning, who recently helped Yorkshire qualify for the English Women’s County Finals. “I’m really excited for Saturday.”

In the semi-finals she will meet Prior, a team-mate in England’s European triumph. She played 18 holes on Friday morning to beat Bethan Morris, of Wales, in a spectacular finale to their round.

Both birdied 15, Prior birdied 16, Morris eagled 17 and Prior birdied 18 to win one up.

In the quarter-finals she met Alice Plumb (Sherborne) and the duel developed into an endurance test when they finished 18 holes all square.

Hole after hole was halved in par before Prior won the 23rd with yet another par.

Gainer won her first-round game with an albatross two on the par-517th. She was playing impressive 13-year-old Kate Bibby (The Els Club, Dubai).

In the afternoon she beat Emily Slater (Gog Magog) 2&1, coming from behind to win with a string of birdies.

Her semi-final opponent is Newlove, who just missed out on a match play place in last year’s championship. She finished on the 13th in the morning and following up with a 4&3 win over Kath O’Connor, of Wales, in the quarter finals.