Jessica is making progress after a successful year

GOOD YEAR: Jessica Hall, from Witton-le-Wear, County Durham

GOOD YEAR: Jessica Hall, from Witton-le-Wear, County Durham

First published in Sport
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The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Reporter

Bishop Auckland golfer Jessica Hall has continued her remarkable progress following a record breaking triumph.

The golfing prodigy capped a sensational year by being chosen as first reserve for England’s under-16 match against Switzerland on August 18, in which England recorded a 7-2 victory.

Although Jessica didn’t feature in the friendly, national coach Scott Godfrey has been impressed by the 15-year-old's development since she burst onto the junior scene in 2009.

Hall, from Witton-le-Wear, County Durham, broke into the England under-16 squad following a succession of excellent performances at both club and county level.

Recently, she became the youngest ever winner of the Durham County Ladies Championship since the tournament was created 92 years ago.

The aspiring professional showcased remarkable determination to complete an outstanding comeback, recovering from five down after nine holes to lift the trophy in Darlington.

She also competed in the North of England under-16 Stroke Play Championships last week, recording a score of 309 after 72 holes to finish fifth.

Graham Hall, father of the talented golfer, believes luck was a major factor in Jessica finishing 13 strokes adrift of leader Hollie Muse

“She had 25 putts under ten feet and didn’t get one of them," Graham said.

“She’s just not getting the fair share of putts at the moment. It’s only a matter of time before she starts getting some really good scores."

Graham, who also acts as caddy to Jessica, spoke of his pride after witnessing her gain widespread acclaim following a number of notable displays.

He said: “We are really proud of her.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going. She tends to get a good score when she needs to. She just seems to improve when the pressure's on. Everybody is proud; we all think the world of her."

Jessica cemented her place in the England under-16 set-up recently and spent two days with the team ahead of their match against Switzerland at Cheshire’s Heswall Golf Club.

Graham believes the experience will prove beneficial, while hoping she will be given an opportunity to transfer her county form to the national game next season.

Jessica did her chances no harm after a series of remarkable achievements in the last few months.

Her record breaking triumph in the County Championship preceded an admirable performance at the Women’s Professional Golf Association's one day series at the prestigious Dunham Forest Club.

The tournament pitted Under-18 girls from regional squads against senior pros, with the aim of aiding development.

Jessica recorded a respectable score of 74, securing a joint seventh place finish after being selected by England Golf as one of ten players with a handicap under four.

She also lifted the Bishop Auckland Club Championship trophy in June, defeating the reigning champion who had previously held the title for 16 years.

Brian Ridley, who coaches Jessica on a regular basis, claims he has been impressed by her immense progress.

In 2013, she reduced her handicap from nine to five, a trend that has continued this year.

Ridley says: “She’s been very very good. Pretty exceptional really.

“Obviously the highlight would be winning the Durham County Championship and nationally she’s done great.

“Her handicap at the start of the year was five but I’m pretty sure she will finish the year at one."

Ridley believes Jessica’s increasing confidence is a major factor in her development into one of Britain’s most exciting young golfers.

He claims: “She’s getting that self belief of late.

“Previously, she had never shot under par. But this year she’s hit three or four under par. It’s a terrific confidence booster.

“She was hitting 81 or 82 every game but now she’s getting scores in the 70s. It’s great."

Ridley acknowledges that there remains room for further improvement as Jessica attempts to fulfil her dream of becoming a full-time professional but praised her remarkable determination to develop her all round game.

He said: “Her scores this year are not as good as they could have been.

“I think she would say herself that she has a tendency to start slowly and finish strongly. She’s trying to change that to give her a shot at titles.”

Jessica is aiming to add the Mizuno Race2Rockliffe title to a growing list of achievements on Sunday, having automatically qualified for the event.

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