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Experience trumps youth for Royal St David’s

IT WAS a triumph of experience over youth as Royal St David’s made the most of home advantage to win the Welsh Ladies Team Championships, beating Newport in the final.
The match hinged on Wales seniors international Ann Lewis up against Newport’s Jess Evans which went to the 18th before Lewis closed it out, making it a first win for the North Wales club since 2010.
It was fifth time lucky for Royal St David’s after losing the previous four finals to Wrexham, Newport or Southerndown on each of those occasions.
Team captain Jeanette Williams, also Royal St David’s club captain this year, won her match on the 17th around the same time as Lewis, adding to victory in the top match for England seniors international Julie Brown over Wales international Jordan Ryan.
Given the average age of the Royal St David’s team was more than 30 years older than the average age of Newport, it was definitely a case of using that know-how and familiarity with the course to gain an edge.
Williams credited ‘The Loop’ as the Harlech course’s equivalent to Amen Corner at Augusta, with the closing holes from 14 onwards posing extra challenges.
“I think team spirit was the decisive factor for us, along with having a lot of home support,” said Williams.
“Having familiar faces all around really did help boost morale, because we were under a lot of pressure trailing around the turn and it was not looking hopeful.
“I was just hoping we could hang on long enough to get the matches into The Loop from 14 onwards. Ann has been there since childhood so she knows every inch there and that helped her do the business and win on 18.
“I had to make sure I held on in my match because I knew we were behind in the last two games. I birdied 14 and then won the 15th to hold Lottie (Raymond) off.
“Those closing holes are more punishing than the earlier holes, it is a nice comparison with Amen Corner.”
Apart from the top three, the Royal St David’s team was completed by Jane Hallows and Julie Snelson, along with reserve Clare Warman.
Royal St David’s had beaten Conwy in the semi-final, while Newport saw off defending champions Wrexham. Pennard, Pontardawe, Cradoc and Whitchurch were the losing quarter-finalists.
There was some consolation for Pennard winning the Plate competition by a narrow margin from Whitchurch (Cardiff) in second, in the competition which saw all those players who lost before the semi-finals taking part in a four ball better ball team pairs contest.
Royal St David’s also proved to be excellent hosts, with Williams adding, “It was really nice for the club to win such a prestigious event for the first time since 2010.
“It was special for everyone involved, with club members being able to play a part by helping out in many ways, watching, supporting and cheering us on.”
Wales Golf’s tournament director Sophie Madsen said, “Congratulations to Royal St David’s both on staging an excellent competition and also going on to win it themselves.
“There was a high standard of golf from all the teams and an excellent return from a new format for the competition this year.”