The new Ladies European Tour class of 2011

The new Ladies European Tour class of 2011

MURCIA, Spain – Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall fired a flawless final round of eight under par 65 to lead the players who graduated from the Ladies European Tour’s Final Qualifying School for 2011 at La Manga Club in Spain.

The 21-year-old from Loddekopinge finished the five-round qualifier on a total of 15 under-par 346, nine shots clear of Jaclyn Sweeney of the United States, who signed for a two-under round of 71.

Hedwall had started the final round with a three stroke cushion over Sweeney and cruised to victory with eight birdies on the South Course.

She started with three successive birdies from the second and added two more at the sixth and eighth holes for a five-under outward total of 32.

She then birdied the 10th, 13th and tapped in for birdie on the 18th for a three-under inward total of 33, matching the eight-under par score she shot in the third round of the pre-qualifying stage, which she also won.

It was her fifth straight round under-par and of the nine qualifying rounds she had played overall, level-par in the pre-qualifying stage was her worst score.

The victory means that she will have a full schedule of events to play in her rookie season and she would like to go to Australia to play in the Women’s Australian Open and ANZ Ladies Masters at the beginning of the year. “It feels good. I was really relaxed going into today and I played really well. It felt solid,” said Hedwall, who turned professional at the end of October.

“It’s the third time I’ve shot eight under so it ties my best score. I still missed a few putts. I hit all the greens and had a fair birdie chance on almost every hole. It felt like it was pretty easy today, probably because we played it in really windy conditions. There was no wind at all. It feels like it’s short and easy. The ball ends up pretty much where you hit it to.”

Caroline Hedwall – one to watch in 2011

Sweeney, 21, from Boston, also secured her first Ladies European Tour card and she said: “It was a lot of fun. I played really well today but compared to Caroline it didn’t feel like I played very well. It was fun and it was a relaxed group.

“I’m looking forward to travelling and seeing the rest of Europe and hopefully Australia as well maybe. It was great. I really love it over here and I’m looking forward to playing.”

Spain’s Belen Mozo finished in third place on four-under-par after a final round of five-under par 68. The 22-year-old from Cadiz will start her 2011 campaign in Australia and she said: “I’m actually nervous to go back home because it’s going to be crazy. I’m having the best time of my life and I’m going to celebrate every day.

“It’s seems like yesterday when I was three months away and counting the days to these three weeks in a row. I was very anxious all this time and I have a bunch of people that were supporting me every day. I was very anxious and nervous every day and having a hard time dealing with my anxiety. It feels like a dream come true.”

Australian Stacey Keating, 24, from Victoria, finished in fourth position after a final round of 69, while Sweden’s Louise Larsson and Lucie André of France tied for fifth place.

Klara Spilkova from the Czech Republic, who turned 16 on the first day of the tournament, finished in a tie for ninth place and will decide over the Christmas holiday whether or not she will turn professional.

Further down the leader board, there was a range of emotion as some players battled to earn the top 30 tour cards in category 8a whilst others suffered heart ache over the closing holes and had to settle for category 9b.

Ten over par proved to be the cut-off point and four players battled for the 30th spot in category 8a in a sudden-death play-off over the seventh, eighth and ninth holes. They were Laura Cabanillas, Kyra van Leeuwen, Connie Chen and Helena Blomberg.

Spain’s Laura Cabanillas eventually secured 30th place after defeating Kyra van Leeuwen at the fourth extra hole, the par-four seventh, just before darkness fell.