AUSTRIA’S Isabella Holpher will defend her title at the English Women’s Open Amateur Strokeplay Championship at Ipswich Golf Club, next week.
The 18-year-old completed a remarkable 11-shot wire-to-wire victory 12 months ago at Coventry GC and returns attempting to become the first back-to-back winner since Yorkshire’s future LPGA player Jodi Ewart-Shadoff, in 2007-08.
The top-ranked player in the field is Essex’s World No. 23 Lily May Humphreys, from Stoke-by-Nayland, who makes the short journey to the Suffolk club on the back of a remarkable season.
Last year’s English Amateur Champion has won the Welsh and Irish Open Amateur Strokeplay Championships so will be bidding for a rare hat-trick when the three-day championship gets under way, on Tuesday, August 20.
Humphreys, who made her Curtis Cup debut in 2018, also claimed the Annika Invitational Europe in Sweden.
The 17-year-old was also runner-up to Hertfordshire’s Ellen Hume at the English Women’s Amateur Championship when defending her crown at Saunton GC.
Hume, from Mill Green GC, has returned to college in America but Humphreys is joined by Cornwall’s Women’s Amateur Champion Emily Toy, Somerset’s Mimi Rhodes – a quarter-finalist and Norfolk’s Chiberta Grand Priz winner Amelia Williamson
The quartet were also in the English team that won last week’s Women’s Home Internationals, at Downfield GC, in Scotland.
The victorious English Girls’ team claimed the Girls’ Home Internationals at the same venue and are represented in Suffolk by Gosford Ladies’ Jessica Baker, Whitley Bay’s Rosie Belsham, Ellie Gower, from Gleneagles, Huddersfield’s Charlotte Heath, Stoke Park’s Thalia Kirby and Carus Green’s Caitlin Whitehead, from Cumbria.
The latter finished second behind Germany’s Marie Bechtold at the English Girls’ Open Amateur Championship at The Gog Magog, last month.
Another player to look out for is Finland’s Kerttu Hiltunen, who last year was a runaway winner of the English Girls’ Under 16 Open Amateur Championship.
Hiltunen returns to the UK along with other Continental entrants from France, Germany Italy, Spain and The Netherlands.
The Scots are also out in force with a group including Penelope Brown, Louise Duncan, Chloe Goadby, Jasmine McIntosh, Lorna McClymont, Shannon McWilliam, Megan Robb and Clara Young.
The host club is represented by Vanessa Bell, Sharon Luckman and Abbie Symonds.
Purdis Heath – as Ipswich is also known – is a traditional heathland layout, and hosted the 2011 men’s English Mid-Amateur Championship.
The English Women’s Open Amateur Strokeplay Championship is contested over 72 holes. The full field play 18 holes on each of the first two days with the leading 40 players and ties returning to play 36 holes on the third day.