Brown's Queen of the greens
FORMER Curtis Cup player Emma Brown caught the eye of English senior women's captain Angela Jones merely by turning 50 and gaining eligibility for veterans golf. In the space of 10 days she metaphorically shouted in Jones's ear, too, by winning the Yorkshire veterans' championship at her first attempt before claiming her fourth county ladies championship, at Richmond and Alwoodley respectively. The former British ladies champion from Malton & Norton defeated Lindrick 19-year-old Mia Eales Smith 4&3 in the final to make it two wins under her maiden name of Duggleby (2000 and 2002) and two in her married name of Brown (2013 and 2022). She admits she is excited by the thought of being considered for a return to the international arena after Jones contacted her to enquire about her plans. “She got in touch and then we had a chat on Zoom, and she asked what I was playing in,” said Brown, who opted to play in the Yorkshire championship ahead of the following week's English seniors championship in Wiltshire out of a mixture of loyalty and pragmatism, the latter putting a premium on both time and financial expenditure. “The Yorkshire championship's great,” said Brown, who had progressed from the stroke play qualifying to the match play stages for the 29th consecutive county championship. “Alwoodley's a lovely course and to come here and see friends - three of my older friends who I used to play county golf with have come down to watch - and to see all the officials, it's just wonderful. It's nice to still be competing because there will come a time when I can't compete against the youngsters to this level.” Brown struck the first blow in the final by winning the par-5 third with a birdie and she doubled the lead by making another at five where she put her approach to 18ins. The advantage looked set to be stretched to three at the next when Eales Smith had to hack sideways out of dense rough, leading to a bogey, but Brown uncharacteristically three putted. Suddenly a potential three-hole lead became one in reality when the Lindrick player then made birdie from six feet at the 7th. However, after two shared holes it was Eales Smith's turn to take three putts, at 10, and after a half at the par-3 11th where she almost holed her tee shot on the fly, a poorly played second at 13 led to the loss of another hole by the teenager. Brown uncharacteristically endured another three-putt green on the 14th hole where Eales Smith's tee shot looked well struck, but drifted into a greenside bunker and she was unable to get up and down in two to punish her opponent's failings. Despite Eales Smith hitting her drive 25 yards past her experienced opponent at the next, Brown called on all her match play experience to pile pressure on Eales Smith by canning a 15ft birdie putt and when the 19-year-old missed from 12ft the contest was over. Stood over what would prove the decisive putt, Brown recalled her morning's effort at the 15th. “I'd had a very similar putt in the morning and knocked it three and a half feet past, so I knew it was fast coming down there and I thought, 'come on, hole this and you can get it over with'.” Beaten semi-finalists were the host club's Sara Gilmore and Aaliyah Hryniewieka-Irwin. Three-time former champion Megan Wileman, of Selby, returning to competitive golf after the birth of her now 11-month-old son, took home the Elliott Trophy for the best 36-hole gross score with rounds of 75 and 68. Zara Ali (Cookridge Hall) had the best first round gross score of 71 and Amy Staveley (Ganton) the best in round two with a course record 67. Brown also garnered the Silver Salver for the top aggregate among the seniors of 147 (74 and 73) with Heather Staniforth (Hallamshire) runner-up (82 and 79). Winner of the Silver Salver awarded for the last day's 18-hole gross event was Ali, her 71 besting Howley Hall's Becki O'Grady by one. Hessle's Grace Lambert won the Silver Salver for best 18-hole nett with a 69, one ahead of Ali.