England star Isobel Wardle staged a stunning final-round comeback to claim a dramatic play-off victory at the 2018 Portuguese Women’s Amateur Golf Championship at West Cliffs Golf Links.
The 18-year-old, who plays at Prestbury Golf Club near Macclesfield, Cheshire, began the last day five strokes behind Annabell Fuller but coped best in the difficult, windy conditions, carding a five-over-par 77 to first catch her fellow England international, then beat her on the first hole of sudden death.
Named as the World’s Best New Golf Course at the 2017 World Golf Awards, West Cliffs has quickly established itself as one of the new stars of global golf since opening last summer, and provided a fitting venue for the 88th edition of the prestigious event – which featured competitors from 15 countries including China.
Wardle, who plays off a handicap of +4.2, opened the event with a level-par 72 – the joint-lowest round of the week in a tournament that was played in cold and windy conditions throughout – but Fuller looked to have victory in her sights as she started the fourth and final round with a three-shot advantage over the field.
The 15-year-old from Roehampton still held a two-stroke lead as she stood on the 18th tee, but she double-bogeyed the hole after tangling with a bush on her way to a disappointing 82, before being beaten by Wardle on the same hole in the play-off. Chloe Goadby, from Scotland, and Germany’s Aline Krauter finished in a tie for third, two strokes adrift of the winning 18-over-par total of 306.
“It’s amazing to win,” said Wardle, who was playing in her first competitive event of the year after winning the English women’s and English girls’ open championships in 2017. “This golf course throws everything at you, it is so tough. If you spray the ball left or right you are struggling to make a bogey.
“I had no idea what anyone else was scoring but I just tried to keep myself as low as possible. Holes 16, 17 and 18 are really tough and I knew if I could hang in with some sort of score it would make those holes even tougher with the pressure.
“I was very, very nervous, I had never been in a play-off. But I had my friend Jess Hall on the bag, she was calming me down and we went through the strategy I had in place and just played the hole.”
Located less than an hour north of Lisbon on the magnificent Silver Coast, West Cliffs was designed by renowned golf architect Cynthia Dye and has already been tipped to become the new number one golf course in Portugal.
The first Dye golf course in Portugal – and only the fourth in Europe, the spectacular par-72 clifftop links has been created over 200 hectares of natural landscape and rolling sand dunes, and offers sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean from each hole.
Complementing the par-72 course is a golf academy, while the resort has further enhanced its environmental credentials at the venue’s eco-friendly clubhouse.
West Cliffs is managed by Praia D’El Rey Marriott Golf & Beach Resort – one of Europe’s leading resorts. Situated less than 10 minutes’ drive from West Cliffs, Praia D’El Rey offers an eclectic and ever-growing range of services and activities attracting the golf, sports and leisure markets.