Olivia Mehaffey brilliantly makes British Open semis

The success of Royal County Down Ladies' Olivia Mehaffey in reaching the morning semi-finals should ensure a full turn out from her "ain folk" as she bids to follow in the footsteps of the 2012 champion from Jordanstown, Northern Ireland, Stephanie Meadow, writes the LGU.

Meadow, who triumphed at Carnoustie, was the first Irish player to win the Ladies' British Open since Lilian Behan at Ganton in 1985.

Match results

Mehaffey, who won't be 18 until October, has had a magnificent early season of triumphs, and reaching the last four of the "British" is the icing on the cake although the Vagliano Trophy match against the Continent of Europe at Malone GC, Belfast the week after next will be another career highlight.
Olivia beat a possible Vagliano Trophy opponent, Sweden's Madelene Sagstrom, a US college player who is ranked No 3 in Europe, by two holes. That took Mehaffey through to the quarter-finals in which she beat Canada's Maddie Szeryk (Canada), conqueror of GB and I Vagliano Trophy team selection Meghan MacLaren in the first round of the match-play.

The winner of three events in a row this season — she completed a hat-trick of Irish Girls titles before taking the Helen Holm Scottish Strokeplay and the Welsh Ladies Strokeplay titles — Olivia had to come up with five birdies to win by one hole, the ability to do so under pressure, the stamp of a class player.

The match was all square after 13 but Mehaffey then birdied the long fourteenth and the short fifteenth to surge two up in sight of the clubhouse. Szeryk was not ready to throw in the towel. She won back the 16th but Mehaffey held her at bay with halves at the last two holes.

She now plays Sweden's experienced Linnea Strom, winner of the Spanish Women's Open amateur title last year, and runner-up in the same event this season. Coincidentally both Mehaffey and Strom are bound for Arizona State University — the Swede this year, Mehaffey in 2016.

Strom, 19, won her quarter-final by 2 and 1 against 26-year-old Australian Joanna Charlton who had toppled world No 1 amateur Leona Maguire (Slieve Russell) by 3 and 1 with four-under-par figures in the morning third round. Charlton never touched the same heights after lunch and was two down to her Swedish opponent after 12 holes before she raised her own hopes of a comeback with an eagle 3 at the 13th and a birdie 2 at the 15th to square the match.

But it was so far and no further for the Australian who will be returning to Europe for the Ladies European Tour Q School later in the year. Strom's par 4 was good enough to win the sixteenth and the Australian conceded the seventeenth and the match by 2 and 1.

The second semi-final will be between the highest remaining seed, No 3, Celine Boutier from France, and a Duke University colleague of the player who replaced her as World No 1, Leona Maguire. Boutier had a bag of 6 birdies in winning her quarter-final by 4 and 2 against Olivia Cowan, German-born daughter of an English club pro in that country.

Celine birdied 4 in a row - seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth, to take a 4-hole stranglehold in the match. In fact, she went five up with a par at the 11th before Cowan made a final move to pull the fat out of the fire. Olivia birdied the thirteenth and fourteenth to get back to "only" three down, but Boutier's sixth birdie of the round at the sixteenth finished the match.

Boutier will now tee it up against Charlotte De Corte (Belgium) who beat Ireland's Paula Grant (Lisburn) by 3 and 2 in the fourth quarter-final. Two up at the turn, De Corte made that three with a par at the 11th, Grant won the thirteenth but a birdie 2 by her opponent at the fifteenth virtually put an end to Paula's quest for the title, which was eventually ended on the sixteenth green.

Leona Maguire's impressive run in the Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship was stopped in its tracks, by 26-year-old Australian Joanna Charlton, in the last 16.

The Melbourne player beat the top seed by 3 and 1, with four-under-par figures including a spectacular finishing burst of birdie-birdie-eagle to win the fourteenth, fifteenth and seventeenth holes at the Portstewart links in Northern Ireland, after an extremely tight match had looked certain to need extra holes to settle it.

"I've been under par in all my wins this week but this was the best I've played," said Joanna Charlton who was a semi-finalist in the Australian women's amateur championship earlier this year and beat Leona's twin sister Lisa in the first round of the match.

Leona did not go down without a fight. For the second day in a row she did not have a bogey and had a couple of birdies, the first at the third to square the match after Charlton had gone one up with a birdie at the first.

The Irish player's second birdie, at the seventh, gained her only a half at that hole. They were still all square playing the fourteenth which Charlton won with a birdie 4 - one up. Charlton then got a birdie 2 at the short fifteenth - 2 up. And the Australian applied the coup de grace with an eagle 3 at the long seventeenth - winner by 3 and 1.

"I'm disappointed," said 20-year-old Leona "but I was happy with the way I played. It was just that Joanna played better in the closing stages."

The oldest of the quarter-finalists, this is Charlton's third and last appearance in the "British."

"I am going to turn professional and I will be coming back to Europe to play in the LET Qualifying School," said Joanna, who will now play the experienced Swede, Linnea Strom, a 5 and 3 winner over Brittany Marchand (Canada).

Paula Grant came back to beat Sweden's Elin Esborn on the 19th in the morning.

Elin looked to be heading for a place in the last eight when she was 1 up after four, 2 up after nine and 3 ahead after fourteen.

But Paula stopped the rot and turned the twice with wins at the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth.

A half at the eighteenth sent them down the nineteenth where Grant completed her comeback.