Tulley tames the men to lift Sussex Champs

Maria Tulley with Terry Marshall Head Pro and the Winners Cup from the Sussex Profesional Championships
Maria Tulley with Terry Marshall Head Pro and the Winners Cup from the Sussex Profesional Championships

Eastbourne Downs golfer Maria Tulley swept aside an all-male field and became the first female golfer to hold aloft the Sussex Professional Championship Trophy.

Tulley, 27, triumphed at the West Hove golf course on the first play-off hole having tied the lead with Sussex professional Giles Velvick after two rounds of golf.

The 2013 Glenmuir Women’s PGA runner-up hit a 72 on the first day which was two-over-par and placed her fifth, five shots off the lead.

A 71 in worsening weather conditions on day two saw her through to the play-off with Velvick who carded an impressive 67 in the first round but lost his way in the second with a 76.

Tulley held her nerve on the first extra hole as she hit a steady par on the par four 14th while Velvick struggled home in six.

The Sussex Professional Championship Trophy has been running for 101 years and had never before been won by a lady.

Tulley said, “After shooting 71 on day two , I didn’t think I had a chance. I was in the bar and ordered a drink when the organiser said, ‘no time for that, you are in a play-off.’

“While I was in the play-off some of the other pros didn’t realise my dad was in the bar and he heard them saying I shouldn’t be out and I shouldn’t be in the tournament.

“It’s disappointing but I guess some men feel threatened by a girl doing well on the golf course.

“It get that sometimes but it doesn’t bother me, if anything it spurs me on.

“I came into the competition in good form. The previous week I broke the course record at Willingdon Golf Club by four shots with a 65, so I was confident I would do well”

Tulley also finished with a warning to the golfing men of Sussex, “I’ll be back to defend my title next year.”

Next up though are the Ladies European Tour access events in Stoke by Nayland, Greece, Turkey before the Ladies European School in Morocco

Maria is sponsored by Tradesmith ltd and gave special thanks to her coach Mark Wood from Dale Hill Golf Club and to Eastbourne Downs head professional Terry Marshall.