Georgia Hall, 19 (right) with men’s Vic Open winner, 47-year-old Michael Long
England’s Georgia Hall claimed her second professional victory on Sunday at the 2016 Oates Victorian Open at 13th Beach on the Australian Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG) Tour after shooting a 2 under par round of 71 and a four round total of 11 under par.
The 19 year old from Bournemouth emerged victorious by a single stroke after a day long battle with defending champion Marianne Skarpnord from Norway and young Danish star Nanna Madsen.
After starting the day with a 2 shot lead Hall was once again solid tee to green on the front 9 making birdies at the both the 2nd and 6th holes but dropped shots at the 5th and 9th to be out in even par 36 to keep her nose in front of the chasing pack. Skarpnord herself was off to a hot start with an eagle at the par 5 second hole but dropped a shot at the 6th hole to turn in one under par 35 to be just one shot behind Hall. Madsen had sent an early message of intent to the final group after a birdie at the opening hole followed by another at the par 5 5th hole. She would drop a shot at the short par 3 7th hole and make the turn in 35, and head into the back 9 just one shot off the lead.
Hall, who had led the tournament from midway through round 1 had played almost flawless golf from tee to green all week and was always going to taking catching. Madsen and Skarpnord both sent out the gauntlet with birdies at 13 and 14 to tie Hall for the lead temporarily, until Hall herself holed a crucial birdie putt from three metres on the short par 4 15th hole to take a one shot lead into the last 3 holes. Skarpnord’s chances were sent packing with a bogey at the 16th after hitting her second shot over the back of the green from the middle of the fairway. Both Madsen and Hall made solid pars on 16 and 17 and after Madsen missed a birdie putt on 18 from 3 metres Hall would head to the par 5 18th hole 11 under par, one shot clear of the Dane and 2 ahead of Skarpnord with whom she was playing.
Hall knew that a par would probably be good enough to win barring a Skarpnord eagle and hit a superb drive up the last, while Skarpnord missed the fairway and was forced to lay up after drawing a terrible lie in the rough.
Hall was in perfect position and was faced with a second shot of 180metres straight into the strong south-easterly wind. She decided to go with a smooth 3 wood as she felt that her rescue would not make the distance. “I didn’t think that I could get there with the rescue so I decided to hit a smooth 3wood but quit on it and was pretty lucky to end up ok and with such a good lie. I was so nervous over my chip and was very relieved when I saw that it was close enough to two putt” Halls pitch ended up 8 feet under the hole and she lagged the putt up to a few inches and tapped in for her first professional victory An elated Hall said ”I knew I had 2 putts and I wasn’t going to do anything silly like hit it 3 feet past”
Hall was obviously delighted with her win. ”I am over the moon and I can really enjoy the win now” I have worked really hard over the winter and to win my first event of 2016 is amazing. I have to thank my mum and dad for all their support, I would not be here without them. I played really well all week and stayed patient when I needed to. Winning the Olympic youth medal in Sydney was great, and winning my first professional event on the LET Access Tour in 2014 was amazing but this really is a dream come true to win an event like this with such a strong field of professionals”
Pre-tournament favourite Karrie Webb shot a 5 under par round 68 to finish in a tie for 11th place, while compatriot Whitney Hillier and amateur Yu Sand Hou from Chinese Taipei both shot 6 under par rounds of 6 under par rounds of 67, the lowest of the day.
The 2016 Ladies European Tour season begins in the coming week with the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open at Clearwater Golf Club in Christchurch where World number 1 Lydia Ko will defend her title in the tournament, which is co-sanctioned with the ALPG Tour.