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Esther Henseleit wins LET order of merit with Kenyan victory

VIPINGO, KENYA – December 8, 2019: Esther Henseleit carded a course record eight under par 64 to win the inaugural Magical Kenya Ladies Open presented by Safaricom’s M-Pesa by one shot and clinch the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit title on a dramatic final day at Vipingo Ridge near Mombasa.

The 20-year-old first-year professional golfer from Hamburg became only the third player in the 41-year history of the Ladies European Tour to capture the Order of Merit and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season, following Dame Laura Davies in 1985 and Carlota Ciganda, in 2012.

Victory saw Henseleit leapfrog Marianne Skarpnord as the European No 1 and become the first German player to win either the Order of Merit or Rookie of the Year titles.

Henseleit posted eight birdies on the Baobab Course at Vipingo Ridge to post a winning total of 14 under par, one better than India’s Aditi Ashok, who shot 65. Overnight leader Julia Engström ended third after a 74.

Henseleit started the day seven strokes behind Engström but quickly made a charge with birdies on the first, fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth holes to get within two of Engström at the turn.

Engström three-putted the 10th as Henseleit birdied the 11th and the pair were tied on 12 under par. Henseleit pulled one stroke ahead with a birdie from six feet on the 13th hole and then went two clear after Engström bogeyed the 13th.

Henseleit added an eighth birdie from four feet at the 15th to move three strokes clear, but saw her lead cut to one as Ashok birdied the 16th and 18th.

Henseleit ended with three pars to ensure her first Ladies European Tour title, following a breakthrough professional win earlier this year on the LET Access Series, in the Skaftö Open.

Henseleit said: “To close the season with a win is the best feeling I could imagine. To be the Order of Merit winner and Rookie of the Year is just unbelievable.

“Yesterday, after my round, I was a bit disappointed but I just tried to do everything better today. I definitely tried to win, although I knew it would be really hard.

“After nine holes, I saw I was two shots back and I knew it was possible.

“I just tried to make a lot of birdies and I hit some great iron shots and gave myself many short birdie putts. The course was beautiful and it played a bit easier today, because the greens were softer. I did the best I could.”

Henseleit, who finished third at LET Qualifying School 12 months ago and turned professional in January with a handicap of +7.1, knew that she needed to win the Magical Kenya Ladies Open to snatch the Order of Merit and she delivered under pressure.

Her season included one win and eight further top-10 finishes, including four second places in the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic, La Reserva de Sotogrande Invitational, Ladies European Thailand Championship and Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open.

She said: “It’s been a great year on the Ladies European Tour. It’s a really friendly tour and it’s been great to travel the world each week with all the other golfers.”

Ladies European Tour Order of Merit winners


Winners of the Order of Merit

1979 Catherine Panton-Lewis

1980 Muriel Thomson

1981 Jenny Lee Smith

1982 Jenny Lee Smith

1983 Muriel Thomson

1984 Dale Reid

1985 Laura Davies

1986 Laura Davies

1987 Dale Reid

1988 Marie-Laure Taya

1989 Marie-Laure de Lorenzi

1990 Trish Johnson

1991 Corinne Dibnah £89,058.00

1992 Laura Davies £66,333.00

1993 Karen Lunn £81,266.00

1994 Liselotte Neumann £102,750.00

1995 Annika Sorenstam £130,324.00

1996 Laura Davies £110,880.00

1997 Alison Nicholas £94,589.00

1998 Helen Alfredsson £125,975.00

1999 Laura Davies £204,522.00

2000 Sophie Gustafson £208,288.00

2001 Raquel Carriedo £160,441.00

2002 Annika Sorenstam €455,567.99

2003 Annika Sorenstam €286,991.24

2004 Annika Sorenstam €368,264.22

2005 Iben Tinning €204,672.62

2006 Laura Davies €471,727.42

2007 Sophie Gustafson €222,081.47

2008 Gwladys Nocera €391,839.58

2009 Sophie Gustafson €281,315.00

2010 Lee-Anne Pace €339,517.77

2011 Ai Miyazato €363,079.68

2012 Carlota Ciganda €251,289.95

2013 Suzann Pettersen €518,448.81

2014 Charley Hull €247,616.69

2015 Shanshan Feng €399,213.41

2016 Beth Allen €313,079.27

2017 Georgia Hall €368,934.60

2018 Georgia Hall €512,101.73 / 667.73 points

2019 Esther Henseleit €208,659.94 / 743.06 points


LET Rookie of the Year Winners


1984 Kitrina Douglas £19,900.00

1985 Laura Davies £21,736.00

1986 Patricia Gonzalez £7,570.00

1987 Trish Johnson £35,718.00

1988 Laurette Maritz £29,362.00

1989 Helen Alfredsson £20,355.00

1990 Pearl Sinn £28,407.00

1991 Helen Wadsworth £17,765.00

1992 Sandrine Mendiburu £26,896.00

1993 Annika Sorenstam £55,927.00

1994 Tracy Hanson £44,205.00

1995 Karrie Webb £90,556.00

1996 Anne-Marie Knight £31,322.00

1997 Anna Berg £19,333.00

1998 Laura Philo £26,574.00

1999 Elaine Ratcliffe £12,146.00

2000 Giulia Sergas £21,335.00

2001 Suzann Pettersen £129,546.00

2002 Kirsty S Taylor €52,903.90

2003 Rebecca Stevenson €70,065.38

2004 Minea Blomqvist €105,020.61

2005 Elisa Serramia €36,366.59

2006 Nikki Garrett €99,445.05

2007 Louise Stahle €79,678.66

2008 Melissa Reid €136,606.00

2009 Anna Nordqvist €100,966.44

2010 In-Kyung Kim €193,194.69

2011 Caroline Hedwall €278,528.87

2012 Carlota Ciganda €251,289.95

2013 Charley Hull €135,994.36

2014 Amy Boulden €83,982.17

2015 Emily Kristine Pedersen €171,688.41

2016 Aditi Ashok €206,664.97

2017 Georgia Hall €368,934.60

2018 Julia Engström €37,385.94 149.15 points

2019 Esther Henseleit €208,659.94 / 743.06 points


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Julia Engström seven clear going into final round

VIPINGO, KENYA – December 7, 2019: Swedish teenager Julia Engström continued to demonstrate her extraordinary talent as she built a seven stroke lead heading into the final round of the Magical Kenya Ladies Open presented by Safaricom’s M-Pesa.

The 18-year-old, looking for her breakthrough victory on the Ladies European Tour, carded a two under par 70 at Vipingo Ridge, 30km from Mombasa.

Engström, the 2018 Rookie of the Year, was six strokes ahead at halfway and is now seven clear of Christine Wolf, Aditi Ashok, Astrid Vayson de Pradenne and Esther Henseleit, who sit at six under.

Engström made a brilliant start with back to back birdies on the first two holes, then carded a third birdie on the par-5 sixth to move eight strokes clear of the current leading rookie, Henseleit.

That lead was cut in half, to four strokes, when Engstrom pulled her tee shot into the water on the par-3 eighth and Henseleit birdied the ninth. However, Engstrom immediately recovered with her own birdie to take a five stroke advantage through the turn, after going out in 34.

Henseleit bogeyed the 10th, handing Engstrom a six shot lead. The young Swede then rebuilt her eight stroke lead with birdies on 11 and 15, however she bogeyed the last two holes for a back nine of 36.

“I had a good start and kept on going. I made a double on eight, but bounced back directly with a birdie. I took advantage of the par 5s and just enjoyed it out there,” she said.

“I haven’t been eating that much, because I have had trouble with the food. I got a bit tired at the end, but I’m hoping that I will be better tomorrow. I will try to eat something tonight and drink a lot of water. I’m happy to go out there in the lead, but there are 18 holes to go, so I’m excited.”

The biggest lead going into a final round this season on the LET was eight strokes, recorded by Atthaya Thitikul, who went on to win by five in Thailand, where Henseleit finished second.

The 20-year-old from Germany has been a runner-up four times on the LET so far in her first season and feels that she will need a low round to catch Engström after a third round of 71. A win would also give her an incredible chance of winning the order of merit, where she lies second behind leader Marianne Skarpnord.

“I was three under after the first nine and had some more chances. I just missed three short putts on the back nine and made a good bogey on 10 after hitting it into the woods on the right. I just couldn’t get the putts in,” Henseleit said.

“It’s a bit like Thailand. I think I was eight shots behind Atthaya, so I’ll be looking for a lot of birdies tomorrow to catch her.”

Wolf’s 66 was the equal best round of the day, but she felt that a second victory following her Hero Women’s Indian Open title would be just out of reach.

Vayson de Pradenne and Ashok both shot 67s to stay in the hunt, but said that they would just be looking to enjoy the final round of the season tomorrow.

Sanna Nuutinen lies alone in sixth, while Kylie Henry, Cheyenne Woods, Ursula Wikstrom and Kelsey MacDonald are tied for seventh on two under par.

It’s set up for a scintillating finish to 2019 on the Ladies European Tour.

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Julia Engström six clear heading into the weekend

December 6, 2019: Sweden’s Julia Engström moved a step closer to securing a maiden Ladies European Tour title after taking a six-stroke lead at halfway in the Magical Kenya Ladies Open presented by Safaricom’s M-Pesa.

The 18-year-old from Halmstad posted a six-under 66 on the Baobab Course at Vipingo Ridge, 30km north of Mombasa. She heads into the weekend on 11 under, ahead of Kelsey MacDonald, Ursula Wikstrom and Esther Henseleit, who are all looking for their first wins. Michele Thomson, Sanna Nuutinen and Cheyenne Woods and all a stroke further back and seven from the lead.

Teeing off from the 10th tee in the morning, Julia wasted little time in picking up from where she left off on Thursday, making birdies on four of her first five holes.

06/12/2019. Ladies European Tour 2019. Magical Kenya Ladies Open, Vipingo Ridge Golf Club, Kilifi County, Kenya. Dec 5-8 2019 Kelsey MacDonald and Michele Thomson of Scotland during the second round. Credit: Tristan Jones
06/12/2019. Ladies European Tour 2019. Magical Kenya Ladies Open, Vipingo Ridge Golf Club, Kilifi County, Kenya. Dec 5-8 2019 Kelsey MacDonald and Michele Thomson of Scotland during the second round. Credit: Tristan Jones

She made a solitary bogey on the par-4 16th for a back nine total of 33 and then played the front nine in 33, courtesy of birdies at the par-3 fourth, the par-5 sixth and the par-4 ninth.

“I didn’t hole that many putts in the middle of the round, but I finished off well. I played solid and hit more greens today, so I’m happy with my round,” said Engström, who ranks 40th on the LET order of merit and fifth in driving distance, with an average drive of 272 yards.

She added: “Obviously it’s golf and anything can happen. It’s a tough course, we are playing it long and you need to play decent. I’m very happy with my first two rounds.

“It’s my first time in Kenya and I’m really enjoying it. It’s quite hot, but it’s pretty cold in Sweden right now, so I’m enjoying the last sunshine of the year.”

06/12/2019. Ladies European Tour 2019. Magical Kenya Ladies Open, Vipingo Ridge Golf Club, Kilifi County, Kenya. Dec 5-8 2019 Cheyenne Woods of the USA during the second round. Credit: Tristan Jones
06/12/2019. Ladies European Tour 2019. Magical Kenya Ladies Open, Vipingo Ridge Golf Club, Kilifi County, Kenya. Dec 5-8 2019 Cheyenne Woods of the USA during the second round. Credit: Tristan Jones

Scots pair MacDonald and Thomson also played in the morning and shot a pair of 68s, in the first group out from the 10th tee.

MacDonald said afterwards: “I hit it great off the tee, gave myself a lot of chances and my putting was really solid today. It was great to get out in the first group when it was a little less humid. I’m just really happy with my performance today.”

Thomson added: “Kelsey’s front nine was phenomenal and I was finding it hard to keep up with her. I decided to turn it on over our back nine and I had nine putts for nine holes, so that obviously helped my scorecard.”

Wikstrom also had a 68, while Henseleit carded a 70 to stay in contention for a win and a chance at the order of merit title.

However, order of merit leader Marianne Skarpnord, who was three over after the first round, fought back with a solid 70 to move into a share of 17th.

70 players made the cut, at seven over par, including four African players: Lejan Lewthwaite (T17th), Stacy Lee Bregman (T23rd), Maha Haddioui and Georgia Oboh (both T63rd).

Watch live streaming on the LET website, from 2.30-5.30pm local time, this weekend.

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European Golf – Magical Kenya Ladies Open

Esther Henseleit needs a victory in the Magical Kenya Ladies Open presented by Safaricom’s M-Pesa which starts tomorrow to win the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit race.

The 20-year-old from Niedersachsen in Germany is the only player who can eclipse front-runner Marianne Skarpnord in the season-ending event at Vipingo Ridge, near Mombasa.

Should she succeed, she would follow Dame Laura Davies and Carlota Ciganda as only the third player in the 41-year history of the LET to win the ranking and Rookie of the Year prize simultaneously.

Henseleit has already wrapped up the Rookie Race on account of eight top-10 finishes this season and starts this week with a healthy 377 point lead ahead of India’s Diksha Dagar, who won the Investec South African Women’s Open.

“I really wanted to win that ranking this year, so that’s good. The others had a chance to catch me, but I feel like since the La Reserva de Sotogrande Invitational, in Spain, there’s been a huge gap between me and Diksha, so the pressure was off in that respect,” said Henseleit, who interestingly shot 70 to win the individual prize in the Pro-Am on Wednesday, by one-stroke over Skarpnord.

The winner in Kenya this week earns 150 order of merit points, with 90 on offer for second position.

“To win the order of merit, I need to win, and I’m trying to win every week. I’ll try to enjoy it here and have a good time and if I play well, that will be ideal, but if I’m second or third on the order of merit, that’s also pretty good for my first year.

“My swing feels good, but it also did last week and I had one really bad round. I hope I can keep it together and play well.

“The course is really challenging and pretty. The views of the sea are great and I heard that the beach is really nice. This resort is fantastic and the villas in which we are staying are nice. The golf course is really good and the greens are different to what we normally play on in Europe, so that’s going to be interesting for the next few days.

“Today I didn’t have any pitch marks on the greens and I feel that with the long irons, they kick a lot on the greens, but when you’re chipping, the ball stops immediately. They are a bit slower than last week in Spain, but that’s alright.

“I really enjoy playing out here on the LET and travelling to different countries. Of course, it’s a bit sad that you don’t get to see that much, but I also enjoy being around the German girls and meeting international players from around the world. It’s a great atmosphere out here.”

Henseleit, who finished third at LET Qualifying School 12 months ago and turned professional with a handicap of +7.1,  started the season with back-to-back top-10 finishes in the Pacific Bay Resort Australian Classic – Bonville and the ActewAGL Canberra Classic. After a tie for 26th in the New South Wales Open, she then made a run of four top-five finishes in the Investec South African Women’s Open, Lalla Meryem Cup, Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic and La Reserva de Sotogrande Invitational, where she finished tied for third, fourth, second and outright second respectively.

She felt that contending at the inaugural La Reserva de Sotogrande Invitational in Spain was the highlight.

“I think my best performance was in Sotogrande, where I was playing against Céline Herbin on the last day, and she’s a really experienced LPGA player. It was different on every hole, because we made a lot of birdies, but also bogeys and three-putted from 20 metres. The last round was a real rollercoaster but it felt like my best golf,” she said.

She recorded another second place finish in the Ladies European Thailand Championship and then posted her fourth and most recent runner-up finish in the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open, before qualifying for the LPGA at Q-Series.

Henseleit returned to Europe and posted a tie for 32nd in the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España at the weekend.

The only thing missing from her season is a victory, but whatever happens this week, Henseleit can certainly say that she has had a great year.

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