NEW Lancashire ladies champion Catherine Roberts admits she had never given up hope of winning the prestigious county title after many near misses over the past decade.

The Pleasington golfer, 26, picked up the coveted trophy on Wednesday after beating Sophie Powell of Manchester on the 20th hole of a marathon final, and proved a very popular winner among her peers.

She had previously lost two finals, in 2008 and 2010.

“It’s brilliant, it’s not quite sunk in yet,” said Roberts.

“I’ve played in this competition for a number of years now and there’s been a couple of times when I’ve been runner-up, plus semi-finals and quarter-finals.

“I never gave hope that one day I’d win it, I’m just so glad to have done it.”

Roberts, a greenkeeper at Westhoughton’s Hart Common Golf Club, which is owned by her parents, salvaged victory from the jaws of defeat after trailing Powell at Manchester Golf Course by one hole going into the 18th.

But she squared the final in thrilling fashion when her second shot to the green went to within five inches of the hole.

“I thought then that my chance had gone after the 17th,” said Roberts.

“I knew I had to make a birdie on the 18th and I managed to pull out something special on my second shot.

“It was the best shot I had played all day.”

She added: “I wouldn’t say that I was at my best in the competition, but I managed to do enough to win.”

Bolton-based Roberts, who has represented Lancashire for a decade, is back in action for her county from June 10-15 when the Red Rose travel to Ganton GC for their County Match Week.

Her Pleasington club-mates Brogan Townend and Nikki Foster are also included in the 10-strong team.

Chorley-based Emily Taylor, the recent winner of the Irish Ladies Ama-teur Championships, and Mytton Fold’s Emma Clegg are other selections, while Clitheroe’s Sophie Lamb is a non-travelling reserve.