NORFOLK’S Amelia Williamson loves links golf… and her first taste of playing against the country’s top LET players will come t one of the best seaside tracks in the UK.
The England international has been given a spot in the latest Rose Ladies Series tournament – at Royal St George’s, the venue for the 2021 Open Championship.
For the first time ever, the famous Sandiwch course will play host to a professional women’s event on Thursday when the fourth event in the Rose Ladies Series tees off.
Williamson is one of three England Golf amateurs in the field.
The England Overseas Women’s Squad member is joined in the stellar line-up by Women’s Amateur champion Emily Toy, from Cornwall, and Yorkshire’s Australian Women’s Open champion Charlotte Heath.
Twenty-year-old Williamson is eager to play a course renowned as one of England’s finest, which has hosted the British Amateur Championship on no less than 14 times and the women’s equivalent three times.
As a member at both Royal Cromer and a classic links track at Hunstanton, Williamson is no stranger to the peculiar test thrown up by golf on the coast.
And although now based most of the year playing for the Seminoles at Florida State University, in Tallahassee, the former England junior international feels right at home in among the dunes.
Hunstanton ‘hoolie’ good practice
AS IF to prove the point, her competitive comeback at Hunstanton at the height of an English “summer” showed her just what to expect if the wind blows at Sandwich tomorrow.
“I was hoping this was the one I would get to play in out of all the great venues in the Rose Series,” said Williamson ahead of a practice round at Kent club, which has hosted The Open 13 times since 1894.
“I’ve never played Royal St George’s before, but do remember watching the Open in 2011,” Amelia added.
“It’s my first time playing in a professional event and only my second competition of the season. But I’m really looking forward to it as I enjoy links golf.
“I recently played an event at Hunstanton on the worst day of the summer!
“It was showers and 25mph an hour winds and I managed to shoot one-over par which was pleasing in the circumstances.
“I’m not putting any pressure on myself this week – but I’m excited to take part.
“It’s great that these events have been put on to give the pros a chance to get back into competition and for amateurs to test themselves too.”
Royal St George’s win for another Seminole
IRONICALLY Royal St George’s was also the venue for another Seminole’s biggest win – Hampshire’s Harry Ellis won The Amateur title at Royal St George’s three years ago.
And when it staged the Women’s Amateur for the first time in 1922, Worplesdon’s Joyce Wethered – described by Bobby Jones as the greatest golfer of the inter-war era – took the title.
When lockdown was on the horizon in March, Williamson left the Sunshine State for home.
She has spent her time practising as well as helping her dad Mark out on his farm.
Amelia revealed: “I wasn’t doing too much – just a few things with the tractors.
“Because I’m away now I’m not used to it all so didn’t get too involved.”
But there’s also been plenty time for family golf since courses reopened in May.
Mum Tracey plays off one and will caddy for her daughter at Royal St George’s while dad is also a tidy two-handicapper.
Tracey and Amelia won the famous Mothers and Daughters competition at Royal Mid-Surrey, in 2014.
In 2017, she also became the first winner of the Gold Rose bowl for the best combined total in the Roehampton Gold Cup and the Hampshire Rose.
The trophy was donated by England Golf ambassador and Olympic champion Justin Rose, who is a member at North Hants, where the Rose is played, in April.
So it’s no surprise that Williamson has blossomed in recent years to become a mainstay of both the England Girls’ and then women’s squads before heading to college in the States.
Seminoles study and practice – why Amelia worked so much on short game
IN Florida, Williamson has combined her studies in sport management and economics with golf and is trying to add more strings to her bow.
Renowned as a fine iron player and ‘par machine’, Williamson has focused more on her short game.
Now, having dedicated time to a “weakness” in her game, Amelia’s keen to make sure she doesn’t overlook practising her strengths too.
“My scoring has been on and off,” added the winner of last year’s Chiberta Grand Prix, in France, and the Astor Salver at The Berkshire GC.
“I definitely think my scores have not truly reflected how I’ve been playing,” said Amelia.
“I’ve been working on a few things and maybe over-focused on one aspect of my game.
“I had a reputation for being a player that hit a lot of greens, two-putted and had no real need to rely on my chipping and putting.
“But in the States I understood that there was going to be a need for me to make a lot more birdies. I’ve worked on wedges and putting and perhaps neglected my irons a little.
“It’s a case of now striking the right balance.”
Big draws for amateur players at Royal St George’s
WILLIAMSON will play alongside Felicity Johnson and Georgina Blackman – both former English Women’s Amateur Champions.
Emily Toy – who defends her women’s amateur crown at West Lancashire in August – has also got a good grouping.
The Carloyan Bay GC member tees it up with Essex’s Charlotte Thompson and Australian LET player Whitney Hillier.
Yorkshire’s Heath is out in the first group alongside Beaconsfield’s Rachel Drummond and Georgia Price, from Bude & North Cornwall Golf Club, who is plays on the LET Access Series.
Also in the field are Rose Ladies Series Order of Merit leader Charley Hull, from Woburn, Dorset’s former British Women’s Open champion Georgia Hall, Wellingboro’s Meghan MacLaren and Dame Laura Davies, the most successful player in LET history.
As a result of Covid-19 restrictions, no spectators are allowed on the course.
Highlights will be broadcast on Sky Sports Golf – follow live scoring here.