Shirley, who won the inaugural 2006 tournament, teamed up with a different partner, Jane Whyatt, to book a place in this year’s grand final and set up a tilt at the title. The pair, from Matlock Golf Club, scored 39 points to lead the qualifiers at the latest regional final at Marriott Breadsall Priory Hotel & Country Club in Derbyshire.

The top seven pairs qualified for the grand final of the competition at the Marriott Forest of Arden Hotel, Golf and Country Club on October 7. The tournament is run by the English Women’s Golf Association.  

The qualifiers, who all scored 37 points or better, each won a pair of ECCO shoes and a PING Collection sweater to wear at the final. Shirley and Jane  also each won a PING golf bag.

Shirley, who plays off 23, and her nine-handicap partner, were in the second group out, they started out with a birdie on the first hole and went on to set an unbeatable target.

“Jane played fantastic golf, I was just the supporting act,” said Shirley. “It will be wonderful to go to the Forest of Arden.”

She added: “We have had a lovely day, the course was in great condition and we have been looked after beautifully.”

They topped a tight leaderboard and were followed by two pairs on 38 and four on 37.

Both pairs on 38 had a chance to catch the winners. The runners-up were Kay Beaman – who was giving her new PING driver its first outing –  and Kathryn Harvey from Bewdley Pines in Worcestershire. They scored 19 points on each half – and just missed a birdie on the last.

Kathryn, who plays off eight, is a county golfer and is currently ladies’ captain and club champion at Bewdley Pines. “You’re not supposed to do any good when you’re captain but I’m having a great year,” she said. “It will be fantastic to play in the grand final, it’s an achievement and helps to put the club on the map.”

Their round was interrupted by a thunderstorm which meant play had to be suspended for about a hour – and Kay treated fellow competitors to an impromptu performance of Singing in the Rain. “You’ve got to laugh,” she said.

 

Third place went to Julie Matthews and Kate Rawthorne of Sale in Cheshire. They, too, had a chance to catch the leaders but they needed to get up and down on the last – and they just failed.

   

Qualifiers

39pts Jane Whyatt & Shirley Kay (Matlock)

38 pts Kay Beaman & Kathryn Harvey (Bewdley Pines); Julie Matthews & Kate Rawthorne (Sale)

37 Janet Lambdon & Sue O’Hagen (Staverton Park); Jenny Cordon & Paula Parkes (Leek); Denise Ford & Liz Simnett (Burton-on-Trent); Christina Allen & Mavis Holden (Tapton Park)

Full details: www.pingchampionship.com