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Suzanne Dickens wins unusual LET event

England's Suzanne Dickens won her maiden professional victory at the sun bathed Ladies 9-hole English Golf Championship at Great Chart Golf Club near Ashford in Kent.

The 33-year-old from Peterborough carded a three-under-par 28 over nine holes at the Robe Di Kappa Ladies European Tour sanctioned event with a twist.

The tournament, the first of its kind to be sanctioned by the LET, which was organised by course owners and designers , brothers Grant and John Kay, was one of two competitions played over two 9-hole courses at the complex in the week leading up to the Ladies English Open at Chart Hills GC from July 9th -11th

In the morning an informal short par-three course competition took place and then the players took to the long nine-hole course in the afternoon for the main event.

Dickens, whose previous best finish on the LET had been tied 17 th at the Ladies Spanish Open earlier this season, finished one shot clear of rookie Ursula Tuuti from Finland, Solheim Cup player Elisabeth Esterl, who won the KLM Ladies Open in Holland two weeks ago, Filippa Helmersson from Sweden and Eleanor Pilgrim from Wales.

"I feel like I'm coming back into form at the moment," said Dickens, who carded four birdies and one bogey at the par-four seventh hole.

"I played to minus eight in one round last week and something just clicked in my swing out in my last round in the KLM Ladies Open in Holland.

"Today I had three birdie twos in a row, which was great, because I had three great shots in and it was nice to convert the putts as well. The eighth hole is a nightmare because even though you only need to take a wedge the target is so small I was getting a little bit shaky up there on the tee. But then I birdied the eighth which I was really pleased about because I would have taken par on there so the birdie was a real bonus. Its quite tricky out there though because the greens look like upturned saucers and sometimes you have to drop it short to let it roll on.

"But considering the course is only a year old I think it's a very good course; it's not championship but it is maintained to a high standard. You have just got to love whatever greens you're on!"

In the 9-hole short course competition 38-year-old Su sie Parry from Salem in Ohio tied to share the lead on three-under-par with 28-year-old Karen-Margrethe Juul from Esbjerg in Denmark and 41-year-old Jane Leary from Sydney in Australia.

Leary's card of 24 included an ace at the 62-yard second hole, which was followed by a hole-in-one for Gina Scott from New Zealand at the par-three 64-yard seventh hole.

Scott, whose career best finish was when she won the Kronenberg 1664 Chart Hills Classic at nearby Chart Hills Golf Club in 2000, was looking forward to returning to winning territory at the weekend for the Ladies English Open.

She said: "I know the organisers here well and they have put on a great event. The last time I played at Chart Hills Golf Club I won so hopefully it's going to be a really fun week ahead."

Parry, whose best finish was tied eleventh at the 2003 Italian Open, said: "Wouldn't it be great if we had something like this to kick start every week on Tour? It's really fun and we get to interact with the other players."

Esterl was another advocate of the unorthodox format: "The organisers have made a special effort for us," said Esterl . "It's the best we've been looked after out of the entire schedule. We've been given flowers and the hotel accommodation is beautiful. I wish we could have an event like this every week."

Allen Wells, Mayor for the Borough of Ashford said: "The standard of golf being played here by the ladies is so high that most average male golfers would be put to shame.

"I'm just amazed at how fit the girls are and I think that the event is a real bonus. It has been a while since I played golf but it is definitely inspiring me to rediscover the sport."


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