Coulter out for revenge against Darling in Girls Amateur final

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Beth Coulter (Photo by Jan Kruger/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Beth Coulter and Hannah Darling will renew their Fulford rivalry after sealing their places in the final of the R&A Girls’ Amateur Championship.

Darling won the inaugural R&A Girls’ U16 Amateur Championship at the Yorkshire venue in 2018, the Scot closing with a 40-foot birdie putt to seal a dramatic victory over Kirkistown Castle’s Coulter after she slipped up on the 18th. Now they will go head-to-head in tomorrow’s eagerly awaited 18-hole final at Fulford after they both came through stroke play qualifying and four match play rounds to set up their meeting.

Coulter, 17, has enjoyed a typically consistent season, including winning the Irish Girls’ Close Championship and a runner-up finish in the Irish Women’s Amateur Close Championship. That form has continued at Fulford where she defeated England’s Ellen Yates in the last eight and then edged out fellow English player, Maggie Whitehead, in a tense tussle by 2&1 – helped by a chip-in for par on the 16th.

“It’s so good to reach the final, especially against Hannah,” said Coulter. “It should be a great day. We actually said last week at the Home Internationals it would be nice if we reached the final at Fulford, a couple of girls were joking about that. I can’t believe it has now happened.

“We were joking about it because of 2018 and me trying to get my revenge on her! She has had a great year and I feel like I’ve done well too.

“Maggie and I had a great game in the semi-final. It was really tight and hopefully having a match like that stands me in good stead for tomorrow. I absolutely love this course at Fulford and it’s great to reach the final and have that chance to beat Hannah.”

In-form Darling has lived up to her billing of the highest-ranked player in the field – currently 27th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking – after the 18-year-old again showed her class to win quarter-final and semi-final ties.

Darling was selected for the forthcoming Curtis Cup at the start of the week and has shone in the match play environment at Fulford, storming to a 9&8 success over Ava Bates in the last eight before holding off a fightback from another English player, Olivia Williams, to win 3&2.

She has continued an exceptional summer, including winning the St Rule Trophy, finishing runner-up at the Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open Championship, and reaching the quarter-finals of The Women’s Amateur Championship and Scottish Women’s Amateur Championship.

“There is that history with me and Beth,” said Darling. “She is a great player and I’ve always respected her. In the Under-16s in 2018, you would never wish that on anyone (going out of bounds on the final hole), so tomorrow should be a good game.

“I see her quite a lot, we are good friends, and it’s always hard playing against one of your friends. It would be pretty special for me to win at Fulford again.”

A number of this week’s players competed in the R&A Girls’ U16 Amateur at Fulford in 2018 and 2019, with the event introduced as part of the organisation’s drive to boost the girls’ game in Great Britain and Ireland and beyond, as well as provide a pathway to the elite amateur level.

The last staging of the Girls’ Amateur in 2019 was won by Slovenia’s Pia Babnik – the teenager already a Ladies’ European Tour winner in 2021 – with past winners also including Suzann Pettersen, Azahara Munoz, Anna Nordqvist and Georgia Hall.

This week’s winner gains exemptions to the R&A Women’s Amateur Championship, the US Girls’ Junior Championship, AIG Women’s Open Final Qualifying and, by tradition, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Saturday’s final begins at 9am.

 

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