Mehaffey looks to finish season strongly after Portstewart heroics; Boutier wins
Olivia Mehaffey. Picture:  Pat Cashman

Olivia Mehaffey. Picture: Pat Cashman

Olivia Mehaffey might have failed 5 and 4 to Sweden's Linnea Strom in the semi-finals of the Ladies' British Amateur Open but the Royal County Down Ladies star will overcome her disappointment to focus on finishing a stellar season as strongly as possible.

As Strom, a player who will become her Arizona State University team mate at the end of next year, fell to Leona Maguire's Duke team mate Celine Boutier by 4 and 3 in the final., Mehaffey was already looking ahead of next week's Irish Ladies Close at magnificent Rosapenna, the Vagliano Trophy at Malone and Ireland's bid for a first European Amateur Team Championship for 32 years in Denmark in July.

“I think I’ll look back and I’ll be really happy,” said Mehaffey, who has won the Irish Girls Under 18, the Scottish Strokeplay and the Welsh Strokeplay titles already this year.. “Right now I am disappointed because I was so close. She was at a different standard really. 

“Playing with her at Arizona State is going to work wonders for my game when I join her there in another couple of years.”

Ladies' British Amateur results

Mehaffey admitted that her short game helped her through a difficult first day in the strokeplay qualifying, which is a credit to coaches Chris Jelly and Donal Scott

But he pointed to her improved ball-striking and credited strength and conditioning coach Robbie Cannon, one of new faces the ILGU has added to its High Performance coaching staff, as the key to her improved ball-striking.

“Robbie is great and I honestly think that’s made the difference this year,” she said. “My ball striking is so much better. I am hitting it higher when it was low before and it’s make such a big difference to by ball flight.

“I have been able to get on the inside and play a draw instead of always being over the top and low. Before I always hit over the top and I literally spent four years trying to stop and I couldn’t do it.  

“My angle of attack was really steep as well but just working this year it has come down and I stopped looking at it. Then I just noticed that with all the work I had done, it had come down naturally without doing anything to my swing.”

Certain now to make the world’s Top 100 this week, she’s determined to push on and finish the season strongly.

“I always seem to start my season well and not finish it as strongly, so I am going to stay in top of everything and keep up with my practice and be more consistent this year," she said

Boutier became the eighth French-born winner since the championship began in 1893 and qualified for the RICOH Womens' British Open, the U.S. Womens' Open and the Evian Championships.

"I am absolutely delighted," she said after finishing her match. "I have played really well across a lot of matches this week which is great, but now I am pretty tired!"
Strom was bidding to become the first Swedish winner since Anna Nordqvist beat compatriot Caroline Hedwall at North Berwick in 2008, but a rash of bogeys between the fifth and the thirteenth passed the initiative over to Boutier.

Overall it was a magnificent week for the Irish with seven of the 10 entrants making the matchplay, three going as far as the last 16 and with Lisburn’s Paula Grant making it into the quarter-finals.

In fact, Ireland were the only representatives from the “Home Nations” in the last 16 with three, matching Sweden and Canada.