Tuesday 12 December 2017

Petterson reaps rewards of flying visit to Ireland


SUZANN Pettersen turned yesterday into a special 'Bank Holiday' after a flying visit to Killeen Castle, Co Meath ended with her cash assets boosted by the first prize winner's cheque of €60,000.

The 30-year-old Norwegian was on a week's break from the LPGA Tour in her home country when she made a late decision to play in the Ladies Irish Open -- as she was one tournament shy of the six required for European eligibility in the Solheim Cup.

World No 3 Pettersen -- winner of the Ladies Irish Open in 2008 -- was well placed on the rankings list, but decided to use this opportunity to remove all doubt about her place on the Solheim team to play the USA on the same course from September 23-25.


Well, she certainly achieved her aim and did it in fine style.

Pettersen's diary entries for the week could read: "Thursday: travel to Ireland. Friday: score one-under-par 71. Saturday: shoot a course-record 63. Sunday: shoot 64, win tournament by six shots with 18-under-par 198 total, collect trophy and cheque and fly home."

It sounds simple, but at the start of the day there were 14 players within six shots of joint leaders Pettersen and Dewi Claire Schreefel of the Netherlands, who were on 10-under par.

Huge galleries turned out to watch the tournament and they got plenty of entertainment from Pettersen.

Once she got going, there was no stopping the Norwegian, who burned off Schreefel, and left the rest wondering 'who's going to be second?'

The answer to that was Spain's Azahara Munoz Guijarro who held on with a final-round 69 for 204, 12-under-par for the 54 holes.

"It was a good week that I didn't plan to play. I'm very happy," said Pettersen.

Joint third were Galway-born USA player Alison Walshe and England's Melissa Reid, each on 11-under 203. The only Irish players to make the cut were the Maguire twins, Leona and Lisa, and Dubliner Martina Gillen.

Leona aced the sixth hole from 155 yards using a six-iron for the first hole-in-one of her career in competition, and won the prize for best amateur with a one-over-par 217.

Lisa, the European Individual Amateur champion, started the day on five-under, but hit a bad stretch from holes eight through 10 which cost her two bogeys and a treble-bogey. The 16-year-old finished one shot behind her sister on 218, but went out on a high note by holing an 18-foot putt for a birdie three on the last hole.

Gillen's tournament ended in disappointment as she was disqualified for taking a drop in the wrong place on the par-three 16th after her tee-shot finished in a hazard. She conferred with her playing partner, Caroline Masson of Germany, who agreed on the position for the drop. The ball went no nearer the hole, but it turned out both players were wrong and Gillen paid the price.

Apart from Walshe, the rest of the USA contingent, headed by Solheim players Christina Kim and Stacy Lewis, and 16-year-old rising star Lexi Thompson, never got enough momentum for a serious challenge.

Lewis finished on four-under 212; Thompson was on 210, and Kim was in the group on two-over-par that included Lisa Maguire.

Irish Independent

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