Martin to defend title at home club

Lyndsey HewisonRoyal Norwich's Sam Martin will defend her title on her home course when the Norfolk ladies' championship takes place next week.Lyndsey Hewison

Royal Norwich's Sam Martin will defend her title on her home course when the Norfolk ladies' championship takes place next week.

'I'm confidently terrified!' she laughed. 'It's my home track and every feeling of anticipation is accentuated because I want to represent myself and my club as best as I can.'

She added: 'I'm looking forward to it and it is a nice position to be in going into the championship. I've been in the final several times and I was so pleased to actually win. This time I shall take it hole by hole and if it works it will be a bonus, otherwise I will enjoy it and play as well as I can.'

For the first time this year the event will be played from Friday, May 14, until Sunday, May 16, instead of mid-week.

The move was designed to make the championship more accessible to those in work and education but, sadly, it has attracted a disappointing entry of just 32 players.

However, although the field is small it does include all the top players in the county.

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But one of the brightest prospects - and last year's runner up - is doubtful. Amber Ratcliffe, the 14-year-old two-handicapper from Royal Cromer will be playing in the English amateur championship in Dorset and if she makes good progress she won't be back in time to play in Norfolk.

Royal Norwich is represented by five players: the reigning champion, Sam Martin, who is a one-handicapper, county captain Nickie Clarke, Angela Loveday and two teenagers, the Norfolk girls' champion Rebecca Heeles, 17, who plays off three, and Jennifer Hide,16, a six-handicapper

A number of other talented teenagers are making their first appearance in this event, including Tiffany Mills, 19, of Ryston Park who recently won the Brister Salver at Royal Norwich; Maisie Turner, 15, who plays off five at Hunstanton, and Wendy Hancock, 18, of Sprowston Manor.

Experience is also well represented, notably by multiple winner Tracey Williamson of Royal Cromer and Karen Young of Eaton, who has held this title three times. Other past winners include Rebecca Shubrook (Sprowston Manor) while Amy Skoulding (King's Lynn) has twice lost in the final.

All competitors will play two rounds of strokeplay qualifying on Friday.

The top 16 players will go forward to the matchplay stages on Saturday and Sunday.

Spectators are welcome.