Hide crowned youngest ever Norfolk champion

Lyndsey HewisonSixteen-year-old Jennifer Hide became the youngest ever Norfolk ladies' champion yesterday when she beat Amy Skoulding 2&1 in the final at her home course, Royal Norwich.Lyndsey Hewison

Sixteen-year-old Jennifer Hide became the youngest ever Norfolk ladies' champion yesterday when she beat Amy Skoulding 2&1 in the final at her home course, Royal Norwich.

A crowd of around 100 spectators followed the closely fought match, including Tracy Dean of Barnham Broom, who has held the record as the youngest champion for the past 20 years.

She was 19 when she won in 1990 as Tracy Ireland. Also watching was Jill Brister of Eaton, who was the previous youngest, winning at the age of 20 in 1951.

Hide, who is also the first junior to win the title, had no idea she was setting a new standard but was delighted by the distinction. 'That's good!' she exclaimed.

The last day of the championship was definitely a case of youth to the fore.

Skoulding (King's Lynn) was the oldest of the four semi-finalists at 22, one year older than Edwina Gold (Eaton), while Rebecca Heeles (Royal Norwich) is 17.

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Hide went into the championship in good form and determined to perform well to win a place in the Norfolk team for next month's regional inter-county matches.

She came away with both the title and the team place.

'This all seems unreal - but it's great and just the break I needed,' she said.

'I knew I could do it, I've been practising hard. I wanted to win and I was determined to do everything I could to win.'

Hide punched the air in delight after she holed a five-footer on the 17th for victory.

She said afterwards: 'That putt looked about 10ft long!'

The result meant a further disappointment for Skoulding, who has now been the losing finalist three times.

However, she's recently opened a baby shop in her home town of March and has played little golf since last summer while establishing her business.

She took an early lead in the final, with birdies on two of the first three holes.

Hide struck back with her own birdie on the fifth and levelled the match on the sixth, where Skoulding lost her first tee shot.

'That was the turning point for me, where I felt things were going my way,' said Hide.

The 16-year-old was never behind again and she demonstrated crisp ball striking, an admirably repetitive swing and good course management.

She went ahead for the first time on the seventh, but was pulled back to all square at the turn.

Hide promptly won the par five 10th with a par and went two up with another par on the downhill 13th.

She got to three-up on the 14th, where her drive finished in the left rough but she played an excellent punch to the edge of the green and her par was eventually conceded.

Skoulding pulled one hole back on the 16th with a textbook par four. Hide's drive had finished in the right rough and she was unable to go for the green in two.

But on the 16th and 17th the youngster played immaculate golf, hitting fairways and greens and two halves gave her the title.

t The Norfolk team for the EWGA East region inter-county matches at West Herts from June 14-18 is: Edwina Gold (Eaton), Rebecca Heeles (Royal Norwich), Jennifer Hide (Royal Norwich), Sam Martin (Royal Norwich), Amber Ratcliffe (Royal Cromer), Amy Skoulding (King's Lynn), Tracey Williamson (Royal Cromer), Karen Young (Eaton). Non-travelling reserve: Debbie Ogaard-Nielsen (Eaton).