Swedish rookie Caroline Hedwall secured her first Ladies European Tour title at the Allianz Ladies Slovak Open. The 22-year-old from Barsebäck fired rounds of 71, 67 and 67 for an 11-under par total. Hedwall's total of 205 was two shots better than Holland’s Christel Boeljon with England’s Rachel Jennings a further two shots back in outright third. The event was shortened to 54 holes after severe storms on day 3.
Hedwall, who had an immaculate amateur career, played her first professional tournament in Australia earlier this year and promptly announced her arrival in the professional ranks with a one shot victory at Golf NSW's Bing Lee/Samsung NSW Women’s Open in Sydney in January 2011. Since then she has been finding her feet in the pay for play ranks posting a respectable four Top-20’s on the LET. However, the likable Swede now has the victory that secures her card for years to come and it may be the start of another exciting Swede’s rise to stardom.
Hedwall had played eight holes of her third round on Saturday, came back on Sunday to complete a round of 67 in sunshine at the Gray Bear Golf Club in Tále. She started out with three straight birdies from the ninth and added another at the par-four 15th hole to stretch her lead and allow her to coast home through the final three holes.
Hedwall said that she felt confident, but was surprised to win on the LET so early in the season, in only her eighth start as a member, “I kind of knew that if I played really well I could have a shot but this early I couldn’t dream of. It’s a dream come true. I’m a rookie on tour and it feels amazing to have won already. It’s a great feeling.”
She announced her arrival back in December when she won the LET’s Final Qualifying School at La Manga Club in Spain by a massive 9 shots. She was also one of the top three ‘Henderson Rookies’ to earn sponsorship from Henderson Global Investors.
She added, “I got off to a really good start, I made three birdies in a row and I kind of felt that it was my day. I just kept on playing my game and it felt good. I thought yesterday that I had a good shot at winning but when I hit my drive on the fairway on number 18 I felt pretty confident that I could just hit it up there in two shots and four-putt and still win. That’s when I thought I had actually won the tournament. I’m excited because this win will give me a spot in the Evian and the British so I’m excited to play those events.”
Hedwall thanked her mother, Yvonne, who acted as her caddie, her swing coach, Johan Andersson, her mental coach Susanne Pettersson and her strength trainer, Dan Salemonsson, for their parts in helping her to earn the €52,500 first prize.
The best of the ALPG players was another Henderson Rookie, Stacey Keating who posted her best result of her rookie LET season with a tie for 8th after rounds of 71,69 and 74. She led in a host of Aussies who all finished in the Top-25: Karen Lunn (T11), Frances Bondad, Bree Arthur, Kristie Smith (all T17) and Rebecca Flood (T21). Other players to make the cut were Danielle Montgomery (T42), Nikki Garrett (T49), Rebecca Codd (T49) and Caroline Bon (T63). More at ALPG website.