Amber Ratcliffe fit for defence of her title
Defending champion Amber Ratcliffe has shrugged off a wrist injury in time to begin the defence of her Norfolk Ladies Amateur Championship title at Sheringham today.
The 16-year-old from Royal Cromer, who became the youngest winner in the event's history last year when she beat vastly experienced club colleague Tracey Williamson in the final, will tee off at 8am this morning in the company of Hunstanton's Louise Patrick. Ratcliffe returned to action last weekend in the Welsh Ladies Strokeplay event after being off course for the best part of a couple of months.
She hurt her left wrist during a practice round, straining ligaments when playing a shot from rock hard ground – not a problem she is likely to encounter this week!
Her recovery has been of the slow but sure variety but she hit balls with no problems over the course of 54 holes in Wales and will now be aiming to follow up last season's famous victory at Hunstanton.
'It was great to get back out there after being out for over seven weeks and in the circumstances I thought I played okay,' said Amber. 'I had no problems with the injury, which was the most important thing, and hit the ball reasonably well.
'I needed to test the wrist in a competition and I have done that now. So I'll be ready for the Ladies Championship and I am really looking forward to trying to defend my title.'
Williamson will be at Sheringham to challenge the youngster again, as will one of last season's beaten semi-finalists and former winner Jo Ashmore of Barnham Broom, an England senior international.
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Other former champions in the field include Karen Young of Eaton, Sam Martin of Royal Norwich – who beat Ratcliffe in the 2009 final at King's Lynn – and Rebecca Shubrook of Sprowston Manor.
There are also several notable absentees, including 2010 champion Jennifer Hide, who is studying in the United States, and one of last season's beaten semi-finals Edwina Gold.
A total of 47 players will line up this morning, with the field, as always playing two rounds of strokeplay to determine the weekend qualifiers. The top 16 will go through to the matchplay competition, with two rounds tomorrow deciding Sunday's semi-finals. The final is due to get under way at 2pm.
The first Norfolk Ladies Championship was held at Sheringham Golf Club and the NLCGA rejigged the rota to enable this centenary championship to be held there. MacKinnon Construction are again the sponsors.