Stephanie Meadow. Picture via ILGU.ieStephanie Meadow is heading for the US Women’s Open following her victory in the Ladies British Amateur Open at Carnoustie.

The 20-year-old from Royal Portrush will tee it up alongside the professionals at Blackwolf Run in Wisconsin this week.

Victory by 4 and 3 over Spain’s Rocio Sanchez Lobato also earned Meadow a place in the Ricoh Women’s British Open championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in September.

A Curtis Cup team heroine at The Nairn Golf Club, where she holed the winning putt for Great Britain and Ireland against the United States in early June, Meadow is the first Irish player to win the Ladies’ British Amateur since The Curragh’s Lilian Behan in 1985.

The last Northern Irish player to triumph was Maureen Madill at Nairn in 1979.

Meadow is currently Number 20 in the Women’s World Amateur Rankings and she played better and better as a week of daily rain at Carnoustie progressed.

She started the tournament slowly by being 50th of the 64 match-play qualifiers and in her first match-play tie she had to go to the 22nd hole to beat Hillside’s Emily Taylor, the reigning Irish Women’s Open Amateur Strokeplay champion.

That was perhaps the tough tie Meadow needed to move her game up a notch or two. She then beat Sweden’s Nathalie Mansson by 4 and 2 and GB and I Curtis Cup team-mate Amy Boulden by 2 and 1 before a 2 and 1 victory over Ariane Provot of France put her into the Saturday afternoon final

Meadow gained the initiative early in the final, taking a four-hole lead after only seven holes. Lobato birdied the short eighth to stem the tide but Meadow showed her class with birdies at the 11th and short 13th before halving the 14th in birdie fours.

In all there were nine birdies in a quality final with Meadow producing five of them and Lobato four.

“I had only one bogey,” Meadow said. “So I must have been four under par for the holes played.”

Meadow revealed that she had spent the lunch break between the semi-finals and final, working on her putting on the practice green.

he explained: “I didn’t putt well in the morning semi-final win over Georgia Hall but that lunchtime session made the difference for the final.”

It was good golf at the gallop in the final. When the match ended with a half on the 15th green, the players had been on the course not much more than two and threequarter hours.

“It’s been a dream month for me,” said Meadow. “First I was in the Alabama team that won the NCAA women’s championship for the first time. Then I helped GB and I beat the United States in the Curtis Cup for the first time since 1996. And now I have won the British open amateur championship for the first time.

“I couldn’t have done any of that if my mum and dad had not moved our home from Jordanstown  to America in 2006 and enrolled me at the Hank Haney Junior International Golf Academy on Hilton Head Island

“I’m having a fantastic time of my life and I want to play on the LPGA Tour when I am a little bit older. First I have another two years at university, studying accountancy.”

Her caddie-dad Robert, who, until he retired was the Finance Director of a group of companies in Northern Ireland, revealed: “Steph is a clever girl and has a 4.0 GPA which is an excellent mark but she has decided to attend summer school to get one module (Finance) of her accounting degree out of the way.

“This will lessen the academic pressure during the Fall semester and allow her to concentrate on her golf. Universities in th USA have summer school during June and July but, as you know, June was a very busy golfing month.

“Summer school is just like taking another class. It’s not catch-up. And it was Stephen’s decision to do so.”
Perrine Delacour (France) bt Laetitia Beck (Israel ) 4 and 2.
Rocio Sanchez Lobato (Spain) bt Noemi Jimenez (Spain) 1 hole.
Stephanie Meadow (Royal Portrush) bt Ariane Provot (France) 2 and 1.
Georgia Hall (Remedy Oak) bt Amanda Strang ( Sweden ) 3 and 2.

Lobato bt Delacour 2 holes.
Meadow bt Hall 3 and 2.

FINAL (18 holes)
Meadow bt Lobato 4 and 3.