Coffey reaches semi-finals


GOLF: Alison Coffey will attempt at Ashburnham in west Wales today to become the first Irish winner of the Women's British Open Amateur Championship since Lilian Behan at Ganton 17 years ago.

The 29-year-old Belfast civil engineer had to endure 24 holes to get past long-hitting Australian Vicky Uwland in the third round, before then seeing off the challenge of Welsh International Jo Pritchard by 4 and 3 in the quarter-finals.

This morning Coffey faces Kent-born Australian Lindsey Wright, while in the other semi-final, Germany's Denise Simon meets Rebecca Hudson, winner of this title two years ago and the current holder of the British Strokeplay crown.

After the gruelling 24 hole marathon, the longest match of the championship so far, Coffey felt "really flat" and had a nasty headache. But within 15 minutes of coming off the course she had to be back on the tee and managed only a sandwich, which she ate on the move.

The result was a poor start when she lost the first two holes to Pritchard (20), but she said afterwards: "When I got my mind together, things clicked into gear and I felt much better and could focus properly on my game."

One down after eight holes, Coffey won five on the trot to take command of the proceedings and finished the match on the 15th.

She will also have been able to sleep well last night in the knowledge that she will be in the Curtis Cup team to face the Americans in Pittsburgh in August.

Ireland's other representative in yesterday's play, Martina Gillen from Beaverstown, came back from being two down with five to play in the third round against Welsh International Anna Highgate to win on the last green, and then put up a tremendous fight before going down to the champion of two year's ago, Rebecca Hudson.

Gillen (20), was briefly ahead of Hudson in the early stages, but having lost the lead by the fifth, was never able to regain it.

Third round: A Coffey (Warrenpoint) beat V Uwland (Australia) at 24th; J Pritchard (Tredegar Park) beat R Quiazon (USA) 2 holes; L Wright (Australia) beat V Costa (Italy) 2 and 1; S Heath (Shifnal) beat L Wessberg (Sweden) 1 hole; D Simon (Germany) beat M Prieto (Spain) 5 and 4; R Fry (Australia) beat P Fraysee (France) 2 holes; R Hudson (Wheatley) beat E Duggleby (Malton and Norton) 3 and 2; M Gillen (Beaverstown) beat A Highgate (Cottrell Park) l hole; Quarter final results; Coffey beat Pritchard 4 and 3; Wright beat Heath 3 and 2; Simon beat Fry l hole; Hudson beat Gillen 2 and 1.