Henderson Rookie Caroline Hedwall believes that winning a fifth Ladies European Tour title in Dubai on Saturday would be her greatest victory as a professional.
While she has won six titles this season including four on the LET in Slovakia, Finland, Austria and India, plus the New South Wales Open and PowerPlay Golf tournament, she said that the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters trophy would be the greatest prize of all.
“Based on the competition in this tournament, yeah, it would be my greatest victory in that case,” said Hedwall.
Currently €12,183 separates the two rising stars of women’s golf: the sensational Swede and Melissa Reid from England, though they insisted it wouldn’t lead to any further pressure.
“Not really pressure. I don’t look at it that way, but of course, that would be a good way to finish the season,” Hedwall continued.
“I did gain a little bit on her now that I won last week, so I think now it’s more realistic to think that I could pass her this week. Before then it was a pretty large gap, but it’s definitely a goal for this week, but we’ll see. It kind of depends on how she plays, too.
“I have a lot of self confidence, and hopefully I can keep that for this week, and if I can do that, I still have a chance to win back to back.
“I love being in the situation where I’m under pressure, and that’s the highlight for me. I mean, everyone is just asking me all the time after the win, but for me it’s when I’m winning, like when I have to perform under pressure, that’s the highlight of it and that’s when I enjoy the most when I can perform under pressure. So I would say that’s pretty much the type of player I am. I dare to win and I dare to lose.”
Should she finish eighth or better, she would have a chance of overtaking Melissa Reid into second place on the Henderson Money List behind Ai Miyazato. The second placed player on the list will earn a 10 year exemption on Tour as the leading player on the ‘Exemption List’, a ranking on which only players with at least six LET appearances over the year feature, to determine categories for the following season.
The first prize in Dubai is €75,000, so Hedwall can overtake Reid mathematically, but should she win, Reid would only need finish eighth or better to put the seal on a magnificent season which has seen her win twice on tour, in Holland and Spain.
Reid is returning from a six-week break but feels confident with her swing after some intense training over the last week in Dubai with her coach, Dave Ridley.
“My preparation the last few days with my coach has gone well, better than expected, because I had a few weeks off. So I’m really feeling I’m actually swinging it probably the best I’ve swung it all year. So yeah, I’m actually feeling pretty good going into this week. I might be a little bit rusty because I’ve not played a tournament in six weeks, but yeah, my actual preparation the last few days has been very good, so hopefully we can play well this week,” Reid said.
On Hedwall’s performances, she added: “She’s had a fantastic year. She’s won four times, and you know, at the end of the day it’s not really going to make that much difference who finishes second or who finishes third. We’ve both had very good seasons, and like I said, if she finishes second or wins this week or plays very well this week, then fair play to her. She’s had an incredible season, and she really deserves to be up there. But either way, we’re both going to finish second or third, so that’s a pretty good season.
“I’ve kind of achieved everything that I wanted to and now I know that I can’t win the money list because I can’t catch Ai, this week I can really just focus on my own game and really enjoy this tournament.
“It’s great for us to play in such a strong field, so yeah, I think this tournament has grown a lot in the last few years, and to get the field like it has done this week is amazing really. Like I said, it’s fantastic for us, and it’s really coming to a very, very strong tournament.
“Obviously I would love to be winning the Order of Merit, but yeah, I would say I’m a very consistent player. I think last year I had nine top 10s, or ten top 10s as well. I mean I do play very consistently, but you know, I just don’t get ‑‑ you always get somebody in a year that wins four or five times, and Lee-Anne did it last year, Laura did it, and this year it’s been Caroline, so unless you do that, you’re not going to win the money list.”
Italian Diana Luna, a two-time winner on tour this year in Germany and Switzerland, is currently €61,673 behind Reid and needs to finish second to have a chance of taking the number two spot.