Beth Allen of the United States equalled the course record with a scorching final round of eight-under-par 64 at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club on Saturday to claim her third Ladies European Tour title at the inaugural Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi.
With four rounds in the 60s, the 34-year-old Californian ended with a 72-hole total of 21-under-par to end three strokes clear of overnight leader Georgia Hall (69). Fellow Englishwoman Melissa Reid had a 68 to tie for third place with Australian Sarah Kemp (69) while another impressive Californian, the 18-year-old rookie Angel Yin, tied for fifth with Sweden’s Jessica Karlsson and Scotland’s Vikki Laing.
Allen cemented back-to-back wins on the LET and her second title in the space of two months following her success at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France in early September. Prior to that, she finished second at the Spanish Open. She now has two wins and five further top 10 finishes from 14 starts on the LET in 2016.
With her prize winnings of 74,323.42 euros, Allen moved almost 50,000 euros ahead of Shanshan Feng on the Order of Merit, with three ranking tournaments remaining.
“This is really special. It’s so amazing to win an event that’s taking place for the first time, especially in a place like this that is supporting women in sports. I’m just really happy that I got it done,” said Allen. “Obviously I’ve been playing really well and when I got done yesterday I felt really good and I knew I could do it, so I just tried to make as many birdies as I could today and turns out I made nine! I’m so pleased.”
“I really want to win the order of merit and I certainly think today helped. I love this course. I immediately thought, ‘wow’, I think I can shoot some low numbers around here. The course is fantastic and we’ve been treated so well. I was feeling really relaxed and having such a great week. It really helped me play well. I’ll certainly be coming back over and over and over.”
After starting the last day two strokes adrift, Allen made a fast start and caught Hall with birdies at the second and fourth holes. She fired four straight birdies from the eighth, but it wasn’t enough to break away from the overnight leader and Hall gained a two stroke advantage after Allen bogeyed the 13th hole.
However, coming down the stretch, Hall stumbled with bogeys on the 14th and 16th while Allen made three straight birdies from the 15th.
Hall, who felt sick before the round, said afterwards: “I played really well on the front nine and got to five-under but one of my bogeys was a bad mistake. The other one wasn’t bad, I was trying to carry the bunker and I hit my drive so low that it plugged into it when it came down, so that was another bogey. Without them, I probably could have caught Beth but I had no idea what score she was on.”
Reid had a frustrating day on the greens and said: “I didn’t get any breaks today at all. I felt I hit a lot of good putts that didn’t go in but at the start of the week, I didn’t feel 100 per cent comfortable with my swing. I probably would have taken this but when you get within touching distance it’s a tough one to take. Fair play to Beth. Shooting eight-under is an incredible score and she’s just on fire at the minute.”
Meanwhile, Icelandic rookie Olafia Kristinsdottir, who opened with rounds of 65 and 66, closed with rounds of 74 and 76 to slip back into a tie for 26th. She said: “It’s a very valuable experience. I’ve never been in this position before so next time I’ll do it better. I’m hoping that India won’t be my last tournament and I’m really crossing my fingers for an invitation to Dubai.”