Ratcliffe gears up for season with Spanish success

Royal Cromer teenager Amber Ratcliffe has started her new season in style - winning by the huge margin of 20 shots. She swept away with the U16 title at the Hacienda Del Alamo Ladies Open, the final event of the February women's and girls' festival in the Murcia region of south-east Spain.

Royal Cromer teenager Amber Ratcliffe has started her new season in style - winning by the huge margin of 20 shots.

She swept away with the U16 title at the Hacienda Del Alamo Ladies Open, the final event of the February women's and girls' festival in the Murcia region of south-east Spain.

The weather was awful throughout the week and the course is well over 6,000 yards - but the 14-year-old fashioned rounds of two-over 74, followed by a pair of 77s.

Amber, who is the English schools' U16 champion, also won the handicap section by six shots - and that's no mean feat for someone who plays off three.

A strong field included fellow members of English Women's Golf Association regional training squads. And her performance might have been even better if the pre-tournament weather had allowed her to sharpen up her short game.

In her first outing in the week-long festival she was rusty around the greens - according to her father, Byron - and she had to settle for second place in the Murcia U16 Open. However, she took advantage of the practice facilities and started to find her short-game form for the season ahead.

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"The only thing that held Amber back was the fact that she had no short game practice. You could tell the girls who had had warm weather practice - they were the ones who shot the low scores," he said.

The festival, which features a series of women's and girls' events, attracted a good quality field, including a number of Curtis Cup contenders. This was Amber's third appearance there and she's been in the prizes every time, although this was her first scratch success.

"It helps Amber tune up for the season ahead and she really enjoyed it," said Byron.