Norfolk ready for a big challenge in County Women’s Finals
- Credit: Archant
Norfolk captain Sue Heeles will go into next week's County Women's Finals with a mixture of optimism and realism.
The county will be missing three of their leading players for the big national event at Delamere Forest in Cheshire, with Amelia Williamson and Amy Taylor having returned to university in the United States and Amelia's mother Tracey otherwise engaged in the British Seniors Amateur Championship.
"It's a bit like Norwich City in the Premier League - we are up against some very strong teams and we have to be realistic - but that doesn't mean we won't be going all out to win every match we play in," she said.
"It's a great chance for the players who have been selected to show what they can do. I have every confidence in them and we are all really looking forward to the competition."
Norfolk's team, in alphabetical order, is Chloe Gibbs (Royal Norwich), Jo Herd (Royal Norwich), Imogen Leeder (Dereham), Tiffany Mills (Ryston Park), Eve Neild (Royal Norwich), Hope Neild (Royal Norwich), Abigail O'Riordan (Swaffham) and Karen Young (Eaton).
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Ryston Park greenkeeper Mills is currently working at the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles and won't be joining the team until late on Sunday, meaning she won't be rushed straight into action.
Norfolk have a daunting opener on Monday against defending champions Gloucestershire before taking on Yorkshire, Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire and finishing off against Surrey next Friday.
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It's the third time in four years Norfolk have made the national finals, with the team finishing third at Waterlooville in 2016 and fifth at a wet and windy Royal North Devon last year.
Poulter on his way
The new Royal Norwich course at the Weston Estate will be officially opened on Monday.
Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter will be playing the inaugural round to mark the completion of a 10-year vision to create a top class venue and recognise the first time a 'Royal' course has relocated to a new site.
The new 18-hole course, designed by Ross McMurray of European Golf Design, will be capable of hosting some of the sport's leading events in the future. The new site will also include a six-hole academy course, built to the same specifications as the main course and designed to both encourage new players into the sport and limit playing time to under an hour.
"The whole of the golf industry has been waiting for this project to come to fruition, so we're absolutely delighted to finally open our stunning new course," said club chairman David Coventry. "We have been working on this project for over 10 years and to finally see the finished article is a testament to the staff, partners and members who have worked day and night to create a truly world class sporting and leisure facility. We're therefore honoured to have Ryder Cup legend Ian Poulter play the first round, someone who has embodied the spirit of passion and commitment in modern golf."
General manager Phil Grice added: "The traditional golf club needs to keep pace with today's faster-moving lifestyles. Royal Norwich has done just that, with a course designed to the highest standards combined with a vision to encourage wider participation at every level."
Poulter will be at the course all day and will be playing between 11am and 3pm. Admission is by invitation only.
The old Royal Norwich course in Hellesdon, which is being redeveloped for housing, will close for the last time on Sunday.
This year's Gillieson Cup final will be between two-time winners Dereham and Royal West Norfolk, who have never won the county competition before.
In Sunday's semi-finals Dereham beat The Links 2-1 at Brancaster while Royal West Norfolk saw off Royal Norwich by the same scoreline at West Runton.
For Dereham Beth Buckingham (6) and Maisie Farnelly (8) lost 3&2 to Ali Rix (15) and Sharon Page (27, rec 14), Helen Burrage (18) and Cindy Tufts (15) beat Jane Gomm (17) and Chris Bayfield (28, rec 6) 2up and Immy Leader (4) and Maria Fox (19) beat Caroline Collett (24) and Helen Newton (28, rec 15) 6&4.
In Royal West Norfolk's semi-final Kitty Wallace (8) and Clare Warman (8) lost to Jan Redgment (18) and Chloe Gibbs (4, rec 3) 4&2, Anthea Franklin (15) and Penny Bonus (20, rec 9) beat Jo Herd (5) and Sue Heeles (13) 3&2 and Suzanna Bunting (14) and Fiona Anderson (18, rec 10) beat Nickie Clarke (9) and Eve Nield (4) 2&1.
The final will be at Thetford on October 6 (1.30pm start).
Poignant Charity Day
The Ladies In League Against Cancer charity golf day at Royal Norwich was extremely well supported and organiser Jan Redgment, in tandem with Theresa and Ray Cossey, were delighted with the overall amount raised of £2,642.
It was the final charity event to be staged at Royal Norwich before relocation, which made it a poignant occasion as well as an enjoyable one.
LILAC was established by Theresa and Gaye Youngman who opened the first Big C charity shop in Norwich in 1995 and were inspired to create a separate fundraising group with an emphasis on fun and friendship. Money raised to date is in the region of £400,000.