Tracey up to the Challenge
Selby's Tracey Cooper lifted the oldest of Yorkshire Ladies County Golf Association's trophies after prevailing in the Challenge Bowl following three days of both stroke play and match play at Bingley St Ives. She edged Otley's Patricia Harrison 2&1 in an absorbing final after the pair had each come through 18 holes of qualifying and then three match play contests. It enabled Cooper to assuage the disappointment from four years ago of getting so close to laying hands on the silverware, bought with subscriptions from members on the association's foundation in 1900. Playing over what is now her home course, having previously been a member at Low Laithes and Howley Hall, she previously
finished as runner-up at Selby to Lynn Wood from Oakdale. Three years on and she immediately trailed when Harrison struck the first blow of the title decider, a straightforward par giving her a win at the opening hole, but she would ultimately rue failing to take advantage of the one shot she received in the match, taking two to get out of a greenside bunker at the third to halve a hole she looked like winning. Cooper's response was swift as she turned a one-hole deficit into a one-hole lead by winning at four and five and after putting frailities surfaced for Harrison at the seventh, where she missed from 3ft for a win, the eventual champion holed a putt of similar length to go two up after eight. Harrison showed great strength by setting aside another missed short putt for a win at 10 to claim the 11th after Cooper's tee shot found trouble down the right. But the see-sawing continued with a booming drive down the 12th and an approach to 12ft restoring the two-hole cushion, Harrison halving her disadvantage thanks to an excellent third shot to 4ft at 14, and Cooper reclaiming it at 15 where she was given a scare as her Otley opponent almost holed from just short of the green. When Cooper hit her second directly behind a tree at 16, Harrison's response was to find the green with her approach and the pair headed down the penultimate hole with the narrowest of separations. Here match play strategy was employed to perfection by Cooper when, after seeing Harrison's second shot fall away down steep banking to the right of the green, she played a circumspect approach to within 25 yards of the putting surface and then chipped to a few inches for a title-deciding par. Tina Ives (Huddersfield) and Jane Henderson (Oakdale) were the beaten semi-finalists during an event that saw Ilkley's Judith Booth awarded the Victory Bowl for the best net score in qualifying of 71. Ilkley's Sue Atkins, Kath Chivers and Booth won the Hamilton Trophy and silver medals for the lowest net team score of 232 while the Helen Drake Salver and gold medals for the lowest gross team score of 273 went to Oakdale's Karen Leake, Patsy Rochester and Penny Baxter. The Everard Trophy for the tri-am competition was awarded to Oakdale's Anne Jones, Joyce Slater and Christine Downing with 82 points. Thirty-six points carded by Sandra Barnes and Marie Lethaby, from Hallowes, won them the Ilkley Trophy on countback in the greensomes event.