Golf: Walters driven by a will to win

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TRADITIONALLY THE curtain-raiser to a new season, the Sunningdale Foursomes, surprisingly considering the club's reputation as a male preserve, also offers a rich heritage for women's golf. The club's women's section celebrates 50 years of existence when Sunningdale has its centenary next year. Two years ago the Surrey venue staged the British Women's Open and next year was due to host the Solheim Cup. Alas, the match has been moved to Loch Lomond, the financial inducement being too good for the poverty- stricken European LPGA to turn down.

Hopefully, there will still be a tour for Lisa Walters to play on in a few years' time. The English Girls champion from Derbyshire added her name to an honours board which already includes Diana Fishwick, Joyce Wethered, Mickey Walker and Julie Hall, with her partner, Richie McEvoy, after a 5 and 4 win over Bill McColl and Stephen Shields in the final.

If the sunshine of earlier in the week was replaced by a chill breeze, the Old Course was still in fine condition, offering a firmness underfoot only dreamt of by the quagmires that masquerade as courses around the country. The winners, four-under in the final, dovetailed throughout the week, but Walters, just 19, hit the ball particularly well over the last two days. Long off the tee, Walters also possesses a fine touch and a 40-yard bunker shot effectively brought about the premature conclusion at the 14th.

"They would have beaten us off level," McColl said. Shields and the Scottish pro could not afford the short putts they missed when already giving away five strokes to their opponents. "I thrive on pressure, I love it," said Walters, a member of the Great Britain and Ireland squad and who intends turning pro after next year's Curtis Cup.

Earlier, in the morning semi-finals, Walters and McEvoy, who had beaten Ross McFarlane and partner the day before, won 4 and 3 against Alex Boatman and Crispin Manson, an intriguing pair who beat Nigel Mansell and local member John Putt in the third round. When his partner failed to live up to his name at the last, Mansell became a driver foiled by a Putt. Manson turned professional just before the event.

Boatman, 27, is the daughter of former Curtis Cup captain Liz Boatman. A Cambridge Blue, now a teacher, Boatman, who plays off a handicap of five, has had to get used to playing a male-dominated sport. That does not mean she likes it. "When I'm playing against men, I know they think they are going to win but I know that maybe they won't," she said.

Boatman was recently quoted at length in Fore! magazine on the subject of discrimination against women in golf. "I swear there's a national conspiracy to stop women playing golf," she said. "The golf club manufacturers and the fashion industry are part of it. What makes them think women like pastel-coloured sweaters and pink club shafts. It seems fine to wear tiny skirts, but not shorts.

"It's wrong that women can't play when they want to. Ladies' matches tend to be during the week, men's are at the weekend. But women work these days. Men are being unreasonable. They just cling to the old excuse that it is tradition.

"I've walked into men's bars without realising and been told to get out. Someone once yelled: `Will someone get her out', like I was a dog. I was the only girl in the university team and in one match I was twice singled out for slow play, where I was probably the quickest player on the course. I was screamed at and told I would never be allowed to play at the club again. It was embarrassing."