MUM-OF-FOUR Nicola Clarke has re-written the Ladies Observer Golf record books after winning the competition for the fourth time this year.
The 34-year-old Rishton golfer had won it previously in 1990, 1996 and 2001 and celebrated an 18th hole win at Green Haworth in the 45th running of the ladies competition on Sunday.
But it was desperately unlucky for opponent Anne Prior, a grandmother-of-five, who has only been playing golf for four years and did well to push the champion all the way.
Nicola, whose handicap is eight, admitted it was a tough final, especially with the added problems of the wind and rain.
"I had to give Anne 14 shots and I must admit, at the start, I knew I would have to play my best to make that up," said Nicola, whose caddy was Rishton's lady captain Josie Banks.
"But I just knew I would never give up. I love match-play, I think it is my forte so I just made sure I enjoyed it.
"I did have the experience of previous finals so I did have an advantage over Anne.
"It was just a shame someone had to lose as Anne played really well."
Whalley's Anne, whose handicap is 28, was not disappointed despite losing her first ever final.
"I lost to a worthy winner," said the 60-year-old. "I just really enjoyed the day and was proud to be part of it.
"I was just glad I gave a good account of myself."
It did start well for Anne as she was three-up after the first four holes as, for the first time, she played in front of an expectant crowd.
"I did relax a bit then," she admitted. "There was some nerves and I think it did affect me but my caddy Shirley Palick was trying to keep me calm all the way round. She was wonderful."
Nicola clawed it back and, by the ninth hole, it was all-square.
The Rishton golfer then took control and was two-up at once stage but this time it was Anne who battled back to make it a tense final.
And it was honours even as they stood at the tricky par four 18th hole.
Nicola hit her ball down the middle and, to Anne's disappointment, she found the trees - and that was it.
"I was amazed I had taken it to the 18th hole but I knew as soon as I hit the trees that was the death knell," said Anne. "But I can't be too disappointed."
Nicola now has her sights set on title number five.
"I really enjoy this competition. Hopefully there is more golf to come," she added.