Berkshire’s Cara Gainer celebrated her decision to play full-time golf when she won the English women’s open match play championship at Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club.

The 21-year-old from Castle Royle beat England international Lizzie Prior 3&2 in the final, played in baking sunshine in front of a good crowd of spectators.

“I’m in a bit of a dream, it’s crazy,” said Gainer, who decided to give her golf a chance after completing a degree in geography at Cardiff University.

“It consolidates my view that I want to give golf a go. I’ve played this great golf in an intense period of time in this crazy heat and against some top players and I’ve come through on top. I’m so pleased, really chuffed.”

She’s already won the Frilford Heath Scratch Salver this season and soon she’ll be off to the English women’s amateur at Lindrick, followed by the English stroke play championship at Woodhall Spa.

The final was very tight over the front nine with Gainer and Prior (Burhill, Surrey) reaching the turn all square. “It was a bit tense for the first few holes but then I settled into it and rolled in some really nice putts,” said Gainer.

She made her move on the 10th, winning four holes in a row, helped by birdies on the 12th and 13th, where she rolled in 15-footers.

Prior produced her own birdie on 15 to claw one back but when the par three 16th was halved in par the title belonged to Gainer.

“Throughout the championship I’ve come into my own on the back nine. The par fives really work for me and I do love that back stretch of holes,” she said.

In the semi-finals Gainer beat Sophie Newlove (Beeston Fields, Nottinghamshire) also by 3&2. “Sophie and I both play in a similar style, we’re both long hitters and quite aggressive. The difference was that I was holing some putts and that was crucial.”

In the other semi-final Prior beat fellow international Olivia Winning (Rotherham, Yorkshire) 3&1. Both players were in England’s winning team at the 2016 European championships.

Image: Leaderboard Photography

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