Caroline Martens wins Lalla Aicha Tour School by eight strokes!


Final round interviews from Samanah Golf Club in Marrakech

Caroline Martens

How does that feel?

I’m almost out of words. Obviously it feels fantastic. I played ridiculously well and didn’t make any mistakes out there. I was striking the ball perfect, I was putting well. It was a fantastic round of golf: the best I’ve ever played.

Where did this come from?

The one word I kept on thinking on every shot, every day, was patience. Like, ‘It’s a marathon of a week, I have to be patient; it’s not over until it’s over. Even on the last putt on 18, I just kept saying to myself, I need to be patient, I need to be patient, just breathe, take one shot at a time, don’t get ahead of yourself and enjoy the moment really.

I’ve never had a full card before. I had a category nine a couple of years back, in 2012, so this is my first time with a full card.

You must be looking forward to next year?

I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been such a difficult year and I’ve worked so hard, having this week going the way it did, it makes me feel like all the hard work I’ve put into it really paid off. I’m really looking forward to next year, getting started and improving on what I did here.

Talk me through all the hard work.

I’ve been in the gym five to seven days a week trying to get back after my shoulder injury. It happened during the Norrporten Access Series event in Sweden. Since then, I mean, I always work hard in the gym, but I didn’t have that kind of determination before because I had been there to get stronger and not to repair something that was broken. Since then, I have just worked really hard trying to get my shoulders back, getting my strength back and also I put a lot of effort into my putting. I’ve been striking it well for a while but I just couldn’t make the putts, but now I can!

Did LETAS help you to stay competitive?

Absolutely. The Access Series is fantastic. What they’ve done there: what Di has achieved with that tour is amazing. I wouldn’t be the golfer that I am today if it wasn’t for the Access Series. It’s been very, very good and very competitive every week. I haven’t won anything this year: I’ve been close several times, but it just tells you that it’s really competitive and to stay competitive week in and week out makes you a better golfer. I would definitely say the Access Series is the reason I am playing well.

To be competitive each week is fantastic but then being surrounded with such good golfers is also inspiring. The Tour is very well run and it’s very professional so you feel as though you are on tour even though you are not on the main tour. It feels like it’s your job and it’s an important feeling rather than playing an amateur event.

How were the conditions… a little wind?

That doesn’t faze me. If it rains, I play better, and if it’s windy, I play better. I didn’t think of it at all, really.

Your mum on the bag, did she help you?

Access Series is important but I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my mom. She is fantastic. She is the best caddie, the best role model, the best motivator, the best mom. She is absolutely amazing and I am so lucky to have her. Ingrid Martens. She is a 4 handicap and she used to be zero, so she actually beat me this summer. We played a round of straight up stroke play and she beat me by a shot. She’s a very good golfer but also she knows my game so well so to have her on the bag, it’s just we’re two instead of one. It feels great.

Sally Watson, 22 from Elie, 12 miles from St Andrews.

A great round! What went particularly well?

I think I was just in a really good frame of mind. I was really excited about today. I know in the past in pressurised situations I’ve been a little more on the apprehensive side, but I was definitely excited about the opportunity. I actually got off to a bad start and bogeyed the first but in some respects I think that settled me down. It got me back into a good routine and reiterated for me to focus on the process and let the results take care of themselves. I think I was just in a good frame of mind today. I stayed in the present pretty well until the end there.

I’m so excited. It’s been a long year and I just graduated from Stanford University in June. I did not have a good spring at all which is not what you want as you turn professional. It’s been a lot of work since then to get my game in shape to really be able to compete for this. I feel like I got better every round and it was nice to play well on the front nine. In a sense, the pressure wasn’t off on the back nine but it was a lot easier to relax having been three-under on the front nine.

This is my first time at the Tour School. I played in the Scottish Open when I was 16 and then another Scottish Open three or four years ago as an amateur because it was a Pro-Am. I wasn’t competing with the other girls.

The owners of Castle Stuart have been very good with financial support as I turned pro.

On the future:

I’ll definitely be looking for Rookie of the Year and it’s a learning experience. I was in a couple of the Access Series events towards the end of the season which were a good experience to kind of get used to the travelling in foreign countries and the professional life. It’s definitely a difference from college golf where you’re travelling with five other girls in a team atmosphere.

Steffi Kirchmayr

It feels awesome, because it’s a tough week and just stressful, so it’s nice to be done. My long game was really good; I just didn’t make many putts. I hit 16 of 18 greens and only made two birdies but my long game was solid, so that made it easy.

Nobuhle Dlamini

Today I hit the ball really well. I think I hit all 14 fairways and 17 greens and just didn’t putt very well. Otherwise I hit the ball really well and hit almost all the greens so I was happy.

I think this is one of my biggest achievements because I’ve been playing golf for about ten years waiting for this day to come, to try to qualify to play on the European Tour, so it’s time and I’ve done it, so I’m very happy.

I’ve been waiting to turn pro this year and I’m really excited about playing on the European Tour and looking forward to it and I hope I can do even better than I did in amateur golf.

Josephine Janson, 22, from Halmstad, turned pro this summer.

It feels great. These few days have been about keeping patient and moving forward. I played really well, really solid and made some putts. I started off with a few birdies and felt great and made two bogeys on the back nine but I hit it solid and I hit it straight.

It’s great to finally be playing on the European Tour and I’m really happy. I’m going to keep working hard and hopefully I’ll get a few good tournaments in next year.

Virginia Espejo

I think my injury was good for me because all I could think about was how much my leg hurt and not that I was playing Q-School. I think it was actually an advantage, because it didn’t hurt in my swing, just when I walked. I didn’t have time to worry about where I was or anything.

I was walking with a swagger! Since the bottom of my foot was inflamed I’ve been walking on the outside of my foot so that has tensed up all the nerves and my calves are very sore and tight from just limping.

Donni helped me out very much, just today, for example, I was on the edge on ten. Front nine I was three under and I bogeyed 10 and 11 and I was very upset and angry and wanted to play very fast and I have no idea how to express how helpful he was in calming me down. His name is Alberto Doniga, but we call him Doni.

I’m very, very pleased. I can’t describe it. To be back on Tour after my first, very, very tough year, I’m looking forward to going back to the same courses and proving to myself that I can play better.

I was not expecting anything because I’ve been playing so bad and haven’t shot under 80 in a very long time. Doni played a great role telling me, you practised well, just trust what you have. I couldn’t practice after my rounds because my foot was very sore. Not being able to practice, I felt bad about it and I felt I was wasting time when everyone was practising, but he was good, telling me that I’d practised enough the whole year and to just trust that and whatever happens, happens.

Kim Williams, 27, from Pretoria, SA

It’s the fourth time that I’ve been here so to finally get it right, I’m absolutely over the moon. I think the whole week I was solid with my irons. At the beginning of the week I struggled with my putting but it came right in the final round.

I think it really helped having one of my best friends on the bag: Henriette Frylinke. She went to pre-qualifying and unfortunately didn’t make it through. I asked her during the practice rounds whether she’d take my bag and it helped a lot. She is one of my best friends and we play a lot of golf together so she knows my game well and kept me calm.

I’ve had quite a long amateur career missing out at Tour School the last three years so I’m looking forward to playing.

I’m still busy at the University of Pretoria doing a PGA.

Lucie Andre

Congratulations on your hole-in-one!

It was a good round with many good shots. I had 144 to the flag and I was in between clubs. The wind was helping a lot so I took a six and hit a half shot. I didn’t see it go in but maybe it went straight in. This is my third hole-in-one, I had one in Texas as an amateur and another one at Q-School in La Manga North Course three years ago, so that was funny!

It’s great because it was unexpected and my season was not so great. I’m just happy to get my card again.