Celebrations on the 18th green

“I’m not a big fan of looking at the leader boards but I was following them today and I knew I had a two shot lead heading down the last hole. I was just thinking about how much I’ve been practicing and how many years I have been out here and just wanting to finish well. I was just thinking about making a steady par on the final hole.”

The lead changed several times on a windy day in the Canary Islands. Overnight leader Taylor dropped two shots in the first two holes, birdied the sixth and double bogeyed the eighth to make the turn in 39 and never really recovered. Australian Waugh seized the lead after nine holes after three birdies, a bogey and an eagle at the par-five sixth hole took her to level par for the day; but then she carded three bogeys on the back nine to slip into a tie for third position.

Hakkarainen started with a birdie at the first hole and immediately took a tie for the lead with Taylor. She then made a bogey at the fourth hole where she misread the distance to the left of the green and another at the fifth where she three putted. She picked up shots with birdies at the sixth and seventh holes and then bogeyed the eighth after leaving her approach short to make the turn in 36. She chipped and putted at the tenth for birdie and then carded another birdie at the 11th, where she hit her approach to two feet. She had a bogey at the 15th but managed to salvage two safe pars on the final two holes to seal her maiden victory.

The win was a welcome reward for the player who has suffered with injuries over the past few years and had an operation to repair a co-joined tendon on her left leg in August 2003. She now trains with a physiotherapist and combines pilates and weights as part of her fitness regime.

Hakkarainen started to play golf at 11 and since the age of 17 she has been coached by Timo Karvinen, who is now her husband. Karvinen was the former Finnish Junior National Coach.

The couple spent some time practicing in Guatemala over the winter where Karvinen had a job as a golf coach but they have since returned to Finland. In the previous three years Hakkarainen avoided the harsh Finnish winters by practicing at Panorámica G&CC, which is where the Spanish Ladies Open takes place from May 11-14.

With her sights set on winning two tournaments this season, Hakkarainen is already halfway to achieving her goal and her knowledge of the golf course where the next Ladies European Tour tournament takes place should help her when the Tour returns to Spain in two weeks’ time.