Golf ace sets her sights high
Royal Cromer's Amber Ratcliffe is signing off from 2010 as one of the country's top girl golfers.
She is nationally ranked tenth in the English Women's Golf Association girls' order of merit and she is number one in Norfolk – for the second year in succession. Here she has retained the overall girls' order of merit trophy, the Brancaster Shield, and also topped the girls' table for events solely in the county, winning the Norfolk Shield.
The 15-year-old, whose handicap is edging towards scratch, is not satisfied. She wants to catch the girls in her age group who are ranked ahead of her nationally. 'I'm going to work really hard this winter to try and get better than them, I want to push myself to get in front,' she said.
Ratcliffe, who trains with an England Select squad, is also seeing top coach Paul Ashwell as she pursues her goals.
Her targets include cutting her handicap from 0.6 to scratch or better and starting the season with a bang at the Scottish U16 open strokeplay.
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'I want to do really well in that, hopefully I can win it or, if not, finish in the top three,' said Ratcliffe. She has also got her eye on a place in the Abu Dhabi Junior Championship, which means posting a low, low score in a qualifier.
Ratcliffe, however, is no stranger to low scores. When she first won the English U16 schools' championship, in 2009, one of her rounds was eight-under par. This year, she didn't dip quite that far in strokeplay – matchplay was another matter – but she regularly churned out the sub-par scores, going as low as four-under.
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They have helped her to a string of titles. The most satisfying for Ratcliffe was the successful defence of her English schools' title, which was her personal highlight of the year.
'It was the whole thing of winning two years in a row which topped it off for me,' she said. What's more, she is still young enough to go for the hat-trick next year.
Close behind was her double success in the East Region women's and girls' championships and her selection for an England squad at an U16 championship. In addition she claimed another cap for representing England schoolgirls. Then there was the impressive matter of reducing her handicap from three at the start of the season.
For now, she's braving the icy blasts to work on her game – and thinking about the sun. She will warm up for 2011 at the Hacienda Del Alamo festival in Spain in February.