Smart and Allen’s Derbyshire delight is a tale of two trophies

Smart and Allen’s Derbyshire delight is a tale of two trophies


Jessica Smart and Emma Allen prevailed in a tense finale to the new look OCEANTEE WPGA and Assistants’ Championship at Kedleston Park to ensure new names will be engraved on the silverware.

Smart, who finished tied-third last year, showed her liking for the Derbyshire venue by winning the 20th edition of the OCEANTEE WPGA Championship for the first time.

She had to do it the hard way, however, by defeating Suzanne Dickens, the 2014 champion at Blairgowrie, in a play-off to claim the trophy for the first time.

The pair had ended on level par after two negotiations of the course that had staged final Open Championship qualifying a fortnight ago.

And having begun the final round five shots behind Dickens, the pro from Saunton Golf Club, Devon, needed one extra hole to complete the turnaround.

A par at the 435-yard first sufficed, by which time Allen (above) was savouring her achievement of winning the inaugural Assistants’ Championship that was run in tandem with the main event.

In doing so, the year one trainee gave credence to the saying if you’re good enough, you’re old enough by finishing at the head of a 40-strong field that featured some experienced campaigners.

Alison Nicholas, the 1997 US Women’s Open Champion, and the tournament’s four-time winners, Tracy Loveys and Heather MacRae, were among those left in her wake as she was the only competitor to complete the two rounds in sub-par.

All of which earned her the £3,000 first prize on offer to the winner of either competition but looked in jeopardy when, with Smart and Dickens a shot behind, she missed a short putt for a birdie on the 18th that would have taken her to two-under.

“I thought that could prove very costly but fortunately I got away with it,” admitted the 25-year-old who represents Boundary Lakes Golf Club, Lincolnshire.

In addition to earning the most lucrative prize in her short career, Allen’s name will be the first engraved on the trophy named after Clare Lipscombe, a popular and highly respected WPGA member who passed away a year ago aged 43.

Allen was presented with it by Clare’s parents, Sylvia and Roy, and added: “I’ve heard a lot about Clare – what a fine player and much-loved person she was. I am so proud to receive this but am sorry it’s the result of such sad circumstances.”

Meanwhile, Smart (above) has good cause for a double celebration as victory in the WPGA Championship has earned her a place in the Great Britain and Ireland team that will compete in the Women’s PGA Cup in America in October.

“I can’t wait, I’m so excited,” she said. “It’s the icing on the cake after what was a nervous experience.

“Suzanne finished after me so it was a nervous wait to see if there would be a play-off. I was pretty nervous but I’m so pleased and proud of myself for the way I handled it.

“I had a bit of a rocky start and was two-over through five then I had a couple of birdies and that got me going.”

Smart will be joined in the Women’s PGA Cup team by Dickens (above right), who qualifies by virtue of finishing runner up in the WPGA Championship, and MacRae (above centre)  as a result of winning it last year.

Smart and Dickens have also earned exemption for final British Women’s Open qualifying as has Eugenie Knight, the third highest placed WPGA member.

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