Amber staying positive after Tour School setback

Top Norfolk professional golfer Amber Ratcliffe has linked up with Sprowston Manor Golf Club in a sp

Top Norfolk professional golfer Amber Ratcliffe has linked up with Sprowston Manor Golf Club in a sponsorship deal which includes coaching sessions with head pro Guy Ireson.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Norfolk professional Amber Ratcliffe is staying positive after the disappointment of failing to secure a second successive season on the European Ladies Tour.

The 20-year-old from Cromer missed the cut in the qualifying event in Morocco just before Christmas as a painful third round collapse scuppered her challenge.

She ended up finishing towards the rear of a 115-strong field after rounds of 73, 73, 78 and 74 left her nine over for the tournament.

But having had time to reflect on a disappointing week in north Africa Ratcliffe feels she might actually benefit from her early exit and is convinced 2016 will be a productive year for her.

'Obviously I was extremely disappointed afterwards but looking at it now I think missing out might actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise,' she said.

'I have lost a couple of stone in weight recently and although I feel better for it I am not hitting it as far as I used to.

'Without my old length off the tee and I'm sure I would have struggled so my main aim in 2016 is to get myself really fit and build up my muscles so I am in the best possible shape to compete. I will also be working hard on my game too and hopefully that will all stand me in good stead when I try to get my full card again.

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'As for competing, well I am still a member of the European Tour so I should be able to get into one or two events while there is also the (second tier) Access Series to play in. It will be a case of picking and choosing the tournaments because when I competed before in 2014 I was playing in virtually all the events and it got very expensive because you only really make any money if you finish in the top two or three.

'I'm really looking forward to the year and I am feeling really positive. I am convinced I can compete at the highest level and I am only 20 so I have still got plenty of time on my side.'

Amber appeared well placed to make a challenge at Tour School when she played the first two rounds in one over par, and then got it back to one under at the 12th on day three at the Samanah Golf and Country Club.

But all of sudden she went from solid to ragged, with a treble bogey eight summing up a terrible run as she plummeted down the leaderboard and effectively slipped out of contention on seven over.

'I am still not sure what happened,' said Ratcliffe. 'I was playing nicely and feeling good and then all of a sudden I hit one or two bad shots and got punished for them. I just don't know where they came from, because I had been hitting it really well up until then.

'After the eight at the 16th I knew it was slipping away and to be honest my brain was really frazzled. I bogeyed the last two as well and I walked off in a bit of daze. I couldn't really speak about it afterwards. I was just so disappointed. But, as I said, it's now a case of putting it behind me. Sometimes things happen in golf that you just can't explain and you have just got to move on.'