A year after finishing tied for second in the Hero Women’s Indian Open, Christine Wolf enjoyed a much happier experience at DLF Golf and Country Club as she claimed her first Ladies European Tour title.
The 30-year-old Austrian, who had led by three going into the 18th hole 12 months ago before a nightmare double-bogey wrecked her chances, was able to take care of unfinished business.
Again, standing on the 18th tee, she held a three-stroke advantage, but this time, there was no sign of nerves and her third shot sailed over the dangerous lake and rolled beyond the flag into the rear greenside bunker. She played a superb sand shot and was able to tap-in for a regulation par to win the event by three strokes over Marianne Skarpnord.
Last year, the 18th had proved her nemesis and she had played the hole in eight-over-par, including a quadruple bogey nine in the third round, but this year, she played the hole in one-under-par, with scores of par-par-birdie-par.
Wolf played four rounds of confident golf on one of the world’s most challenging golf courses and was error-free over the weekend. She went 44 holes without a bogey, her last coming at the 10th hole in the second round on Friday and she shot a flawless final round of 69 for a 72-hole total of 11-under-par.
After being showered in water and champagne, Wolf said: “I’m very relieved. I was looking forward to coming back here. I didn’t think, in my wildest dreams, that I would actually pull through and I’m just excited right now. I just tried to stay calm and enjoy it out here and hit good shots.
“I am super happy, obviously, to post my first victory but also because I did it here. I love the course and I already knew that coming into this week. Everyone knew about the drama that went on last year.
“When I left last year, I was ready to be back, play the course and get some revenge on the 18th.”
Wolf emerged from the pack with a third round of 67 and held a one stroke lead over Meghan MacLaren heading into the final round. Her ball-striking proved reliable and she fired in to close range, converting a short birdie putt on the first hole and extending her lead to two shots. That lead became three when MacLaren bogeyed the next hole.
Wolf made an up and down from the bunker for birdie on the fourth hole but Skarpnord closed the gap to two with her gain on the sixth. They both birdied the ninth and went out in 33.
Wolf made nine steady pars on the back nine to come home in 36 and almost birdied the treacherous 17th for the fourth successive day, but her putt from 10 feet missed by a fraction. Skarpnord’s only error was on the par-5 15th.
Wolf’s local caddie, Ajay, was perhaps the most excited to make amends as he had taken the loss in 2018 personally.
“He texted me all of last year and even at Christmas time. He said, ‘I’m so sorry, ma’am, I think it was my fault.’ I said, ‘Well the only thing you could have done differently was hit that shot for me’, so it was nice having him there and I think he’s super excited as well.”
Wolf, from the holiday village of Igls, near Innsbruck, became only the second Austrian winner on the LET, following Nicole Gergely ten years ago and moved into third place on the order of merit.
Meanwhile, Skarpnord moved into first place. After a final round of 70, she said: “I’m quite happy with my game. Christine played such good golf and hasn’t made a bogey in two days. I felt that I played steady and had a good score around this course. When you are playing with a player that doesn’t miss a fairway, doesn’t miss a green and holes a few putts; it’s very difficult to beat that. Christine has been out here for a few years and she really deserved that win today.”
Meghan MacLaren and Whitney Hillier, who both shot 72, ended in third and fourth places respectively.
Indian amateur Anika Varma, 15, proved herself a star in the making by finishing in solo fifth place, while Tvesa Malik was the leading Indian professional in a tie for sixth with Cloe Frankish and Emma Nilsson.
After a final round of 70, Varma said: “I feel pretty good. I enjoyed my round today on the course. It was a good day for me and I enjoyed every part of it.
“I was pretty nervous in the beginning, but as soon as I hit my first tee shot I felt fine. I had a good group (with Sweden’s Emma Nilsson and Manon De Roey of Belgium) today and I enjoyed playing with them. That helped me play well too. I was pretty consistent today, just had one double (bogey) on the 16th. Before that I was doing pretty good and I didn’t miss a single regulation before the 16th hole, I think only that one and the 18th, which was the highlight of my day.”
This week, the Ladies European Tour is thrilled to be celebrating 10 years of involvement in the Hero Women’s Indian Open, alongside title sponsor Hero MotoCorp Ltd and the Women’s Golf Association of India.
The LET first sanctioned the 54-hole tournament in 2010, with a purse of $300,000.
Now in its 13th year overall, the purse for the 72-hole event has grown to US$500,000 – a rise of 500% from its inaugural year in 2007 – the ultimate proof of the rapid strides made by Women’s Professional Golf in India. There is now four days’ of live international television coverage and it attracts the very best of talent from across the globe with an equal split of players from Europe and India.
The tournament offers an opportunity for talented young Indian women golfers to test their skills against some of their overseas counterparts and has already played a part in the development of home grown talents such as Olympian Aditi Ashok, who was the first Indian to win on the Ladies European Tour when she claimed the title in 2016 and also Diksha Dagar, the leading amateur that year who went on to win this year’s Investec South African Women’s Open as a rookie professional.
In terms of the golf course, the Gary Player-designed DLF Golf and Country Club offers a venue to match the event’s status as one of the finest and most challenging in the world.
The work of the team at the Women’s Golf Association of India, guided by President, Mrs Kavita Singh, cannot be underestimated and nor can the long-term support of Dr Pawan Munjal, Chairman, Managing Director & CEO of Hero MotoCorp Ltd, who has been the driving force behind the development of women’s golf in the country.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Mr J Narain, Hero MotoCorp, welcomed the players to India and commented: “This is the 10th year of Hero’s association as title sponsor and the 10th year of the LET’s association with this tournament. Hero has been at the forefront of sports sponsorship in India and we are all very proud of where Indian golf stands today. We have players in all corners of the globe.”
The biggest professional women’s golf event in the country welcomes 120 women golfers from 29 countries and Mr Narain and Mrs Singh were joined in a press conference by a number of marquee names.
Mr Narain added: “It is my pleasure to welcome a special guest, the architect of the sensational Solheim Cup win at Gleneagles: Catriona Matthew, who is here in India for the first time. We also have two past champions, Camille Chevalier and Becky Morgan, who will defend the wonderful trophy. They won’t have it easy, because we have some very good Indian players. Diksha Dagar has been performing very well on the LET circuit, then we have Vani Kapoor and a few more players who will give them a tough time.”
Mrs Kavita Singh commented: “I want all the players to appreciate that this would not have been possible without Dr Munjal’s total dedication to women’s golf. To raise the prize fund from $300,000 to $500,000: that’s a huge amount in this country. Golf has always been seen as a rich man’s sport so it’s at the bottom of the ladder in terms of funding and very rare that it will get any government funding. It is through the hard work of all the team.
“The journey has been long over the last 13 years and a tough ride, but believe me, I always believed and I do this for the passion and pure satisfaction of seeing the Indian girls doing well. I hope we do well in the Olympics and come in the top three, if not next year (in Tokyo) then after that. I do have faith. Also, I can see the tour has grown now to 33-34 girls from 3-4 and we are just 13 years old, so I think we have taken great steps.
“It’s an expensive game for a country like India and unfortunately we do not have courses all over the country which are available for the girls to play. In Japan and America, they are hitting into nets off buildings. In tier 2 cities we do not have that, but probably in five years, or if not earlier, there will be 100 (female) pros.”
The tournament plays a societal role in inspiring local players to pursue their talents and the WGAI order of merit leader, Gaurika Bishnoi and LET rookie Tvesa Malik, explained how they both came to work as scorers, before they played in the tournament.
“Laura Davies used to come and give the clinics and it was great to see our idols,” said Bishnoi. “It’s been a long journey from walking the course and putting in the scores to playing in it,” she added.
“To see the journey from volunteering to playing in the tournament has been amazing,” commented Malik.
A strong commitment to the development of young players is also visible through the variety of off-course activities and a third annual achievers’ camp has been organised by the LET this year, in tandem with the WGAI and The R&A.
Europe produced one of the greatest fightbacks in golf history to snatch a dramatic 14 ½ – 13 ½ victory over America in the 16th Solheim Cup at the PGA Centenary course at Gleneagles.
For the last 45 minutes of a truly enthralling contest it looks as if the visitors would emerge as victors but that was before Anna Nordqvist, Bronte Law and Suzann Pettersen conspired to turn the result completely on its head.
The Americans needed just half a point from the last three games to retain the trophy but first Nordqvist beat Morgan Pressel and then Law came from behind to snatch an improbable win over Ally McDonald before Pettersen completed one of golf’s greatest acts of escapology with a winning birdie putt against Marina Alex on the last.
It is no wonder the celebrations were tumultuous and no surprise either that the Americans looked shell-shocked because they scarcely deserved to lose.
In fact, the match was so close that no less than six of the 12 singles went to the 18th and Europe edged it purely because they won three and halved one of those.
The timeline best tells the story of the final day.
Carlota Ciganda put the first point on the board for the home side when she beat Danielle Kang on the last in a match in which there was never more than one hole it in but Nelly Korda then evened things up at 9-9 when she came back from three down after nine holes to beat Caroline Hedwall by two holes.
Europe then edged ahead again when Georgia Hall beat Lexi Thompson 2 & 1. The American was in front in that game early on but seemed to be struggling with a back problem and in the end could not contain Hall who went ahead for the for first time on the 11th before claiming another point for the home side on the 17th.
Europe now held a slender 10-9 lead in the match and they went two points ahead when French rookie, Celine Boutier, also came from behind to beat American counterpart Annie Park 2 & 1. That meant the 24-year-old captain’s pick completed her first Solheim Cup with four wins in her four matches and completely vindicated the faith Catriona Matthew had placed in her. It also saw her tie Hall as the top points-earner in the home side.
Europe was chasing 14 ½ points to win but they remained 3 ½ points short of that target when Jodi Ewart Shadoff lost 5 & 4 to US rookie Brittany Altomare. The US revival continued first when Angel Yin led almost all the way to even the match up at 11-11 with a 2 & 1 win over Azahara Munoz and then when Jessica Korda completed a memorable family double with a 3 & 2 comeback victory over Caroline Masson.
That win by the elder Korda sister meant that for the first time in the entire match America held the lead and Europe’s predicament worsened when Charley Hull lost the last hole to halve her match against Megan Khang and again when Anne Van Dam missed a 12-foot birdie putt on the last that would have given her a halve with Lizette Salas.
That one hole win by Salas took the American total to 13 ½ points and meant they just needed half a point to retain the trophy. Strange as it seemed at the time, it was not to be.
At that stage, Anna Nordqvist was four up through 13 holes on Pressel and the Swede went on to win 4 & 3 but Pettersen and Law were tied with Alex and McDonald when both had to win to stop America winning the match.
For three days of intense competition there had been little to choose between the two teams so it was fitting the match was to go right to the wire.
English rookie, Bronte Law, was the first to grasp the moment when she won both the 16th and 17th to beat McDonald 2 & 1 and then seconds later, up ahead at the last, controversial captain’s pick Pettersen, a veteran with eight previous Solheim Cup appearances behind her, holed a ten-foot birdie putt to beat Alex and secure what was one of the most dramatic victories in the history of the game.
The delirious European team rushed onto the green to hug the Norwegian, while the Americans were left to ponder what might have been.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Europe’s captain, Catriona Matthew. “All 12 of these players, they played their hearts out. We knew it was going to be close today, but to come down to the last putt and for Suzann to hole it, it’s incredible. She got a lot of stick when I picked her, but it shows it was the right one.
“I could barely watch, actually,” she added. “It’s far worse watching. “When you’re playing, you’re kind of in the zone and in the moment, and you’ve got control over things. But watching you just have to have faith in the players. There’s nothing else you can do.”
Juli Inkster, the US captain for a third time in succession, said: “It’s disappointing but, you know what, I told them afterwards the sun’s going to come up tomorrow. We played great; the Europeans played great. You tip your hat and you move on to (the next Solheim Cup at) Toledo.”
Suzann Bows Out at the Top
Suzann Pettersen has announced she is to retire for competitive golf after a sparkling professional career spanning two decades.
Moments after holing the birdie putt that secured Europe’s victory in the 16th Solheim Cup, the 38-year-old Norwegian, confirmed she would be hanging up her clubs with immediate effect.
“That’s it, I’m done,” she said. “I’m closing it down tomorrow.
“I think it’s the perfect closure, there’s no better way to end my professional career. I never thought I was going to be here four months ago until I met Beany (Catriona Matthew). So, to end it this way, that’s very special.”
Pettersen bows out of professional golf having won two majors, 15 LPGA tour titles and seven on the Ladies European Tour. This year marked her ninth appearance in the Solheim Cup, stretching back to 2002, during which she won 18 matches, tied third on the all-time European list alongside Matthew, behind only Laura Davies and Annika Sorenstam.
Her most successful year came in 2013 when she won five tournaments around the world and posted an additional eleven top-ten finishes. She ended the year as World No. 2, just behind Inbee Park.
Suzann arrived at Gleneagles as one of Matthew’s captain’s picks having played just twice this season following the birth of her son, Herman, last September but that didn’t stop her combining with Anne Van Dam to beat Danielle Kang 4 & 2 before delivering the winning point against Marina Alex in the singles.
“It didn’t surprise me when Suzann holed that putt,” said US captain, Juli Inkster. “It was great. I mean, I knew she knew the Cup was on the line. And to go ahead and roll that putt in, that’s impressive. That’s why she’s Suzann.”
She also received a glowing tribute from teammate Anna Nordqvist.
“I think I’m speaking for everyone on this team,” she said. “Suzann has been a big role model for all of those the last couple of years, more than that.
“I remember my first Solheim Cup in 2009, I got to play with a lot of my idols growing up. It was Laura Davies, Helen Alfredsson, it was Beany, it was Mimmi Hjorth and Suzann Pettersen. I got paired with Suzann in my second match and it was really cool. It was definitely one of the best highlights of my career.
“She’s going to be missed,” Nordqvist added. “She’s a rock star. She’s such a great character and a big role model for all of us.”
FRIDAY FOURSOMES RESULTS
8:10 Morgan Pressel and Marina Alex (USA) halved with Carlota Ciganda and Bronte Law (Europe)
8:22 Georgia Hall and Céline Boutier (Europe) defeated Lexi Thompson and Brittany Altomare (USA) 2&1
8:34 Jessica Korda and Nelly Korda (USA) defeated Caroline Masson and Jodi Ewart Shadoff (Europe) 6&4
8:46 Charley Hull and Azahara Muñoz (Europe) defeated Megan Khang and Annie Park (USA) 2&1
EUROPE 2 ½ USA 1 ½
FRIDAY FOURBALL RESULTS
12:40 Suzann Pettersen and Anne Van Dam (Europe) defeated Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas (USA) 4&2
12:55 Ally McDonald and Angel Yin (USA) defeated Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall (Europe) 7&5
13:10 Carlota Ciganda and Bronte Law (Europe) halved with Jessica Korda and Lexi Thompson (USA)
13:25 Charley Hull and Azahara Muñoz (Europe) halved with Nelly Korda and Brittany Altomare (USA)
EUROPE 2 USA 2
OVERALL EUROPE 4 ½ USA 3 ½
SATURDAY FOURSOMES RESULTS
8:10 Morgan Pressel and Marina Alex (USA) defeated Anna Nordqvist and Anne Van Dam (Europe) 2&1
8:22 Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier (Europe) defeated Lizette Salas and Ally McDonald (USA) 3&2
8:34 Charley Hull and Azahara Munoz (EUR) defeated Danielle Kang and Megan Khang (USA) 4&3
8:46 Jessica Korda and Nelly Korda (USA) defeated Carlota Ciganda and Bronte Law (EUR) 6&5
EUROPE 2 USA 2
OVERALL EUROPE 6 ½ USA 5 ½
SATURDAY FOURBALL RESULTS
12:40 Brittany Altomare and Annie Park defeated Suzann Pettersen and Anne Van Dam 1 up
12:55 Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Caroline Masson halved with Lexi Thompson and Marina Alex
13:10 Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier defeated Ally McDonald and Angel Yin 2 up
13:25 Lizette Salas and Danielle Kang defeated Carlota Ciganda and Azahara Munoz 2 up
USA 2 ½ EUROPE 1 ½
OVERALL EUROPE 8 USA 8
SUNDAY SINGLES PAIRINGS (USA first)
11:40 Carlota Ciganda defeated Danielle Kang 1 up
11:52 Nelly Korda defeated Caroline Hedwall 2 up
12:04 Georgia Hall defeated Lexi Thompson 2&1
12:16 Celine Boutier defeated Annie Park 2&1
12:28 Angel Yin defeated Azahara Munoz 2&1
12:40 Megan Khang halved with Charley Hull
12:52 Lizette Salas defeated Anne Van Dam 1 up
13:04 Jessica Korda defeated Caroline Masson 2&1
13:16 Brittany Altomare defeated Jodi Ewart Shadoff 5&4
13:28 Suzann Pettersen defeated Marina Alex 1 up
13:40 Bronte Law defeated Ally McDonald 2&1
13:52 Anna Nordqvist defeated Morgan Pressel 4&3
EUROPE 6 ½ USA 6
FINAL RESULT: EUROPE 14 1/2 USA 13 ½
Europe’s finest golfing destination will welcome next generation of players across two stages this November and December
Dom Pedro Hotels & Golf Collection has announced an exciting new partnership with the Ladies European Tour (LET) to host its Qualifying School this November and December, as the next generation of potential Major champions or Solheim Cup players begin their journey.
The five-round final stage will be played on both the Pinhal and Victoria courses, the latter of which was designed by Arnold Palmer and has played host to the previous 12 editions of the European Tour’s Portugal Masters, ensuring a tough test for those that tee it up from 11-15 December.
For those needing to earn their place in the final, the Pre-Qualifying Stage will be played across the Dom Pedro Laguna and Millennium courses from 27-30 November. Running side by side and sharing a clubhouse, they promise to provide an electric atmosphere for those battling it out over 72 holes.
In addition, all competitors will be able to take advantage of luxury on-site accommodation, staying in the four-star Dom Pedro Vilamoura hotel, which overlooks the beach and is just a short walk from the marina, offering numerous bars and restaurants.
Pietro Dal Fabbro, CEO of Dom Pedro Golf, said: “We are thrilled to be welcoming the LET Qualifying School to Dom Pedro. This is an exciting opportunity for us to showcase Europe’s finest golfing destination to a new audience and play our part in discovering the next great talents of women’s golf. Offering year-round sunshine and the finest course conditions, in addition to our wider destination offering, Dom Pedro has everything a female golfer could need.”
As part of the new partnership, LET members will be able to come to Vilamoura for warm weather training during December and January. Receiving a reduced rate in one of Dom Pedro’s three four-star hotels and afforded unlimited access to all five of the championship-quality golf courses available, including the acclaimed Dom Pedro Old Course, it will be the ideal place to prepare for the new season.
Mark Lichtenhein, LET Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to partner with Dom Pedro Hotels & Golf Collection and I am sure that our members will enjoy the excellent conditions for a personalised stay, as well as the unique golf experience offered by the brand. Dom Pedro Vilamoura will be the perfect venue for our Qualifying School and it is rare that you find a facility with such a wide variety of superb courses and practise areas, which are all in magnificent condition.
While Qualifying School can be a stressful time, the competitors can rest assured that the on and off-course facilities will be of the highest quality.”
PATTAYA, THAILAND – June 23, 2019: Thai amateur star Atthaya Thitikul has won the Ladies European Thailand Championship for the second time in three years.
The 16-year-old finished with a five-under-par 67 on a weather-interrupted final day to win by five shots from Esther Henseleit.
Thitikul’s triumph at Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club two years ago aged 14 years, four months and three days made her the youngest known winner of a professional golf tournament.
She backed up that success with a phenomenal performance at the same venue, posting rounds of 69, 67, 63 (a course record) and 67 for a winning total of 266, 22-under-par.
At 16 years, four months and three days, the No 5 ranked amateur in the world is the youngest player to win two Ladies European Tour titles and the most exciting prospect in women’s golf since Lydia Ko, who had won four professional titles by the same age.
“It feels unreal,” said Thitikul, who was undistracted by a three-hour weather delay due to storms in the middle of her round. “I’m really pleased with all the things I’ve done in this tournament. The last time I had a bogey was in round two. I just put the ball where I wanted it. Since I won two years ago I’ve kept working hard and I’ve grown in confidence. Today I didn’t actually sing a song to myself, I was just talking with my caddie.”
German rookie Henseleit shot a final round of eight-under-par 64 and as Thitikul is still an amateur, she collected the winner’s cheque for 45,000 euros, moving to second on the LET order of merit although she said that she would have preferred a trophy.
“This is my third second place this year and of course I would love a victory, but Atthaya played so well and she deserves this trophy.”
Germany’s Olivia Cowan finished third, with Norwegians Marianne Skarpnord and Tonje Daffinrud tied for fourth place. Hannah Burke, Beth Allen and Nattagate Nimitpongkul were joint sixth and Carmen Alonso tied for ninth with Chorphaka Jaengkit.
Thitikul’s second win in the tournament will renew the question of when she will turn professional, but with her second LET title, she will once again qualify for the Evian Championship and the AIG Women’s British Open, which means that European fans will get to see her perform in next month’s majors.
Pattaya, Thailand – June 18, 2019: Rising stars Esther Henseleit, Julia Engström, Kanyalak Preedasuttijit, Chonlada Chayanun, Atthaya Thitikul and Hyun Ju Yoo are hoping to make the most of a major opportunity in the Ladies European Thailand Championship this week.
The tournament starts at Phoenix Gold Golf & Country Club Pattaya, Chonburi, on Thursday and as well as a cheque for 45,000 euros, there are several chances to qualify for this summer’s major championships through the tournament.
The winner will earn a place in the Evian Championship at Evian Resort Golf Club and the AIG Women’s British Open at Woburn. In addition, the top five players on the LET order of merit after Sunday’s final round will qualify for The Evian and the leading three LET members in the Ladies European Thailand Championship, not otherwise exempt, will earn a place in the British Open.
Third ranked Henseleit, who claimed her maiden win on the LET Access Series on Saturday, is in Thailand for the first time but is ready to challenge following six top-10 finishes, including two second places at the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic and La Reserva de Sotogrande Invitational, in her first season as a professional.
The 20-year-old from Hamburg, Germany, said: “Winning was a great experience, another great week for me and I played well. I have taken a lot of confidence from it and I hope I can do well. It would be great, and it is important that I try and stay in the top-five of the Order of Merit so that I get into the Evian Championship. If I play well this week then I will achieve that. Winning back-to-back would be amazing and I am going to try and do it.
“I am going to do a lot of work on the greens today and tomorrow, so that I get used to the grain. I think they are very different from Europe, so it is important to prepare for them. It is my first time here, so I need to work out my strategy for the Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club. I also need to get some rest so that I am recharged to play well this week.”
Engström is another young star hoping to make the most of this week’s opportunity. The 18-year-old from Sweden, has just completed her high school exams, which will allow her to focus on her golf fully for the first time.
She finished T15th in the tournament last year, on her way to becoming the 2018 Rookie of the Year on the LET and said: “I am excited to be back. It is a great course and amazing place to be at, it is really fun to be back, and I am looking forward to the week.
“I would like to finish in the top-10. My focus to start with is to make the cut and then build on that. The goal when you go into a tournament is always to win but I would be happy with a top-10.
“I have heard that this week it is expected to get warmer and warmer each day. It is nice to have a bit of a breeze today. Last year when we arrived it was already really hot, so it is nice to ease ourselves in this time around. When the hot weather strikes on Thursday, I will be prepared!”
The local challengers include former champions Kanyalak Preedasuttijit and Atthaya Thitikul, as well as Chonlada Chayanun, who are joined by the popular South Korean golfer Hyun Ju Yoo, who has 142k followers on Instagram, almost as many as Carly Booth, with 149k.
Live coverage of the LET Thailand Championship can be followed on TrueSport HD3 on June 22 and 23 between 1pm – 4pm. Tickets, Bt100 per day per person, are available at the public entrance to the course. Those under 18 and over 60 are exempt from entry fees.
Norway’s Marita Engzelius will be aiming for a repeat performance when she tees up in the fourth edition of the Terre Blanche Ladies Open in France, from the 5th to 7th April.
The 30-year-old from Baerum, claimed her first LET Access Series title last year with a three stroke victory over Emma Nilsson from Sweden at the Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort in Provence.
Looking ahead to this year’s event, she said: “I’m very happy to be returning to this beautiful course. Last year I really fell in love with the area and the people at the club were so friendly.”
Engzelius has not been able to prepare as she had hoped for the opening event of the LET Access Series season, only just recovering from an injury which has kept her from practicing over the winter months. “Unfortunately, I am just about to start practicing again after I broke a bone in my back in January. Recovery has gone well, but unfortunately I will not have time to prepare as much as I would like. It was difficult to think about not returning to Terre Blanche, and I am very thankful to go back this year although not under the circumstances I wanted. I am going to approach this week with thankfulness that I am able to compete again.”
Engzelius will be joined by 20 former LETAS winners including Jane Turner, Valentine Derrey and Jade Scaheffer-Calmels, past Order of Merit winners Sarah Schober and Emma Nilsson, and last year’s Rookie of the Year, Emie Peronnin. There will also be a large contingent of LET Rookies, including Georgia Oboh, Hannah McCook and Lisa Maguire.
Turner comes into this week’s event full of confidence after a win in the Supersport Ladies Challenge at the end of February on the Sunshine Ladies Tour. The 29-year-old from Edinburgh is relishing the challenge of the Riou course and the potential for her third professional victory.
“Going out to play on the Sunshine Tour in South Africa has been a great way to start my season, said Turner. “I believe that you can practice as much as you like but playing competitively is a different feeling altogether, my plan of getting some tournament rounds under my belt before the first LETAS event, especially winning the Supersport Ladies Challenge at Wild Coast, will be key to having a strong start to my year. It’s been a fantastic feeling coming home with a trophy and finishing 11th in the Order of Merit gives me a real confidence boost leading up to Terre Blanche.”
One hundred and twenty players from 22 countries will tee off on Friday in the first of 20 events, the strongest LETAS schedule in its 10 year history.
Queanbeyan, NSW, Australia – March 8, 2019: Valdis Thora Jonsdottir from Iceland followed up her impressive opening day’s 63 with a one-under-par 70 to hold a two-stroke lead after the second day of the Women’s New South Wales Open presented by Worrells on Friday.
Hot on her heels is the rising German star Karolin Lampert, who shot the joint best round of the day with her 65. That score equalled Lynn Carlsson’s 65 and the Swede is tied for third with the defending champion Meghan MacLaren, who shot a five-under 66 at Queanbeyan Golf Club.
Jonsdottir began the day with a bogey on the first hole, but quickly recovered with a birdie on the second. She birdied the fifth, but bogeyed the sixth, before making an eagle on the seventh to round off the front nine in two-under 34.
The Texas State University graduate completed the back nine in one-over after bogeys on the 11th, 12th and 14th, against birdies on the 13th and 18th.
The 29-year-old described her round as a challenge, fighting a misbehaving driver, and approach shots which didn’t have the radar like the consistency of her first round eight-under par effort.
“It was a bit of a battle today, honestly,” she smiled. “I didn’t hit very nicely off the tee; I only hit three fairways, as opposed to four yesterday.
“My irons weren’t as aggressive today as they were yesterday, so I’m happy with one under based on how I hit the ball. My rhythm was off but it will be back tomorrow.”
Asked about the mental challenge of backing up her incredibly low first round score, Jonsdottir said she hadn’t thought much about it until the phone calls, and messages from Iceland began to appear on her phone.
“I tried not to think about it, but Iceland is 11 hours behind Australia, and I kept on getting messages yesterday & this morning as I woke up, reminding me of what I did yesterday. I tried to block it out and start a new day today.”
Lampert, 24, from St. Leon-Rot, made a big move on day two with seven birdies and just one bogey, at the second, on her card.
“It was great fun today. I only made one bogey, where I hit it in the trees, so no chance to make par there. I hit it close and rolled some nice putts in, so it was great. I almost had an eagle on the 16th, but I just left my eagle putt a bit short so I was really happy about my birdie there.
“The greens are quite small here, so whenever you’re on the green, you have a good chance for birdie.”
Lynn Carlsson climbed 16 places with her 65, which included five birdies and an eagle on the par-5 seventh.
The Swede was thrilled with her effort post round.
“I’m very happy, and I got into a good flow in the middle of the round, an eagle on 7 and a birdie on 8 and 9.
“I played solid, hit a lot of greens. I’m very comfortable with my putting, so it was a very good day.”
MacLaren, 24, from Rushden, Northamptonshire, was also thrilled to be back in contention after her round containing seven birdies and two bogeys.
“Everything was just on it today and I felt comfortable. I had two bad tee shots, which cost me bogeys, and to bogey 16 feels like I’ve given a shot and a half back, but I made up for it on the last. I felt really in control today.
“Any time you’re in contention going into the weekend in a tournament you’re in a good spot and this one feels more special because of last year. It’s a good place to be.”
Australian Rebecca Artis, Scotland’s Michele Thomson, Austrian Christine Wolf and Munchin Keh from New Zealand are in a tie for fifth, another shot back, at five-under-par.
Although pleased to be where she is on the leader board, Artis felt she still had room for improvement in her game.
“I didn’t play quite as well today,” she said. “I hit 17 greens yesterday, so it’s always tough to back it up.”
“I got off to a slow start but stayed patient. I hit a couple of decent shots, and I am feeling confident with the putter. I knocked one in close on par 16th, and one on 18th. I made both of those.
“I felt I played better on my back nine today and tried to hang in there. Hopefully, I can get it going on the weekend.”
Thomson, who will turn 31 on Monday, had four birdies and two bogeys to remain in the hunt for her first title on the Ladies European Tour.
She said: “It was a steady round really and I holed a few putts. I finished the front nine birdie, birdie, which set me up for a good back nine and I had some chances I didn’t take but holed a nice one on the 18th for birdie, from 15 feet.
“I’ve been playing well, I just haven’t putted well and obviously yesterday I played well. Today was similar. This course suits me being tight and the greens are small, so it reminds me of where I played as a youngster.”
On International Women’s Day, the players, caddies and organisers wore purple to mark the occasion, with the 2019 theme being ‘a better balance.’
She added: “It’s really good to see everyone supporting International Women’s Day and I thought I’d get on board by wearing purple.”
Queanbeyan, NSW, Australia – March 7, 2019: Valdis Thora Jonsdottir fired a career-low eight-under 63 in round one of the Women’s New South Wales Open presented by Worrells on Thursday to take a three-stroke lead over Astrid Vayson de Pradenne.
Starting from the ninth, the 29-year-old from Iceland wasted little time in climbing the leader board at Queanbeyan Golf Club with four birdies in her first five holes.
She bogeyed the 18th, but then quickly recorded a pair of birdies followed by an eagle on the third hole, signing off with another birdie on the par-five seventh.
Jonsdottir, a gold medal winner in the inaugural European Mixed Team Championships at Gleneagles in August, said that she was playing pain-free, but swinging slowly due to a persistent back problem, which has led to her to withdraw from the Jordan Mixed Open next month.
Last week, she was barely able to sit up in bed and she has decided to go home to Akranes next week to see a doctor.
She said: “My back has been hurting a lot the last five weeks, so I have decided this week that I’m going to swing it very slowly. I kept the ball in play and hit a lot of good iron shots into the green and made a lot of good putts.
“Because my back has been bothering me a lot, I’m going to continue to take it easy and go out there with an open mind.”
Vayson De Pradenne, who was due to share accommodation with Jonsdottir in Jordan, also fired a career-best round, of five-under-par 66.
The 2018 Jabra Ladies Open champion, from Chateau-neuf-de-pap in France, was thrilled with her return to form.
She said: “My mind was very focused, my iron play was strong and my course management was wise as well, as I took the wind into consideration. We are playing at altitude so there is an effect there and there are some key holes which look wide but actually have very narrow fairways. My putting was also very good and I’m glad because I had an argument about it with my coach last week.
“He told me that I was not aiming the putter face where I thought I was aiming, which put a shadow over my putting and it was maybe not the right moment to correct it. I had 28 putts today just thinking about some simple things such as how to read the putts and where to aim.
“I was also lucky enough to talk with Gary Player in Abu Dhabi and he told me that the key was to have a mechanical thought over the ball, so I’m now thinking of one thought, which is ‘baby cut,” and it seems to work.”
New South Wales’ Rebecca Artis is the best Australian in a tie for third with Spain’s Carmen Alonso on four-under-par. Artis was pleased with her round, saying that her recent form had been below average.
“I played solid out there today. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for me, so I was just trying to do the basics right, hit the fairway, hit the middle of the greens and take opportunities as they come. The putter had been cold the last few weeks, so it was nice to see a few drop today.”
Scotland’s Michele Thomson is a shot back on three-under in joint fifth alongside Manon Gidali from France.
Meanwhile, Whitney Hillier, Felicity Johnson and Munchin Keh, who all played in much colder temperatures in the morning, share seventh with Nina Pegova and Carly Booth on two-under-par. Last year’s champion, Meghan MacLaren, fired a one-under-par 70 to sit in a seven-way tie for 12th place.
Canberra, Australia – March 3, 2019: Anne Van Dam from The Netherlands has surged home on the final nine to win the Canberra Women’s Classic at Royal Canberra Golf Club by three strokes: her third Ladies European Tour title inside six months and her fourth overall.
Van Dam began the day as joint leader on 11 under and duelled with defending champion Jiyai Shin (Korea Republic) through the back nine before picking up four shots in the final four holes with a final round of six under 65.
Katja Pogacar (Slovenia) – the other overnight leader – also came home strongly with two birdies in the final four holes to finish 14-under par, one ahead of Shin.
Van Dam said after shooting eight under in the second round to put her in contention, she knew she had to go to another level to win the championship.
“It gave me so much confidence that I knew I could birdie every hole here. I just had to stay patient, trust my long game and I was really happy with the way I putted.”
The day began with a group of five players separated by just two shots at the top of the leaderboard and while Van Dam led at the halfway mark by one shot, Shin and Carly Booth (Scotland) and Madelene Sagstrom (Sweden) were all within striking distance.
Shin looked the most threatening having moved to 12 under and she then drew level with Van Dam at the 12th, only to lose the lead the next hole with a bogey five.
But the defending champion refused to surrender her title and again drew level with a birdie on 15.
Just when it looked like the championship was shifting, the long-hitting Van Dam reached the 15th in two and then holed the eagle putt to move to 15 under.
Shin continued to stake a claim for the title when she birdied 16 to be one shot behind Van Dam.
The Korean bogeyed 17 and Van Dam seized the advantage with birdie on the 16th and then crowned her victory with another birdie on 18 to finish on 17 under (196).
The ActewAGL Canberra Classic is Van Dam’s fourth title on the European Tour.
“I’ve hit a lot of golf balls over the past couple of months and, with my coach Dave, we’ve been working on my swing, so I’m really happy with it right now.”
Katja Pogacar surged home with a final round of 68 to claim second place, her best finish on the Ladies European Tour.
“It was my first time playing in the last group in front of a large gallery, which was different and a great experience…and I loved it.
“I’m so happy to have performed under the pressure. It was a little shaky in the beginning but I finished strongly…which will give me a lot of confidence for the whole season.”
The next event on the Ladies European Tour is the Women’s New South Wales Open at Queanbeyan, which is just 20 minutes from the venue of this week’s tournament at Royal Canberra Golf Club.