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Golf News: - Posted 30th May 1998 (Previous report)

Ratcliffe beats Walters at first extra hole

Walton Heath, Surrey - Curtis Cup star Elaine Ratcliffe held off a strong challenge from teenager Lisa Walters to win the English Amateur Ladies Championship in a nail-biting final at Walton Heath in Surrey.

Ratcliffe, from the Sandiway Club in Cheshire, was taken to an extra hole before finally getting the better of her 18-year-old opponent from Chevin in Derbyshire.

Ratcliffe, who had never previously won a major British title despite having a string of runner-up finishes to her credit, gained early birdies on the third and fourth holes to move two ahead of her rival.

But she was quickly brought back to level pegging after six holes and the duo were still all square at the turn.

Walters, who spent three months in Portugal working on her game over the winter, then edged ahead by taking the 13th and 15th holes, sinking a 10-foot birdie putt and appearing well in command with a two-hole advantage.

"I thought I had it in the bag then," said Walters. "I knew I only had to make par from then on and Elaine would have to make birdies to win - but that's just what she did."

Ratcliffe stepped up a gear and won both the 16th and 17th holes, where she played the shot of the match by putting her second shot to three feet of the pin.

"I knew I had to hole it to keep the match alive and I got my birdie," said 25-year-old Ratcliffe.

On the first extra hole a splendid sand-iron shot from a difficult position and another three-foot putt secured the victory.

Ratcliffe's jubilant father Colin said: "Success has been a long time coming. It must have cost us 40,000 over the years, but it's been worth every penny for this moment."