(Golfclub Föhrenwald, Wiener Neustadt, Austria – Sunday 13th September 2009) — Sweden’s Linda Wessberg defeated England’s Laura Davies at the second sudden death play-off hole to earn her third Ladies European Tour title at the UNIQA Ladies Golf Open presented by Raiffeisen in Austria.
Wessberg and Davies both took regulation pars on the short 16th before Wessberg triumphed with a six on the par-five 18th hole at Golfclub Föhrenwald in Wiener Neustadt.
Davies recorded a seven after she pulled her tee shot into wet rough and twice hit her ball into the lake in the pouring rain.
Both Wessberg, 28, and Davies, 45, shot nine-under-par 279 over four rounds, having closed with respective rounds of 71 and 69.
Wessberg thought she’d blown it after she took a double-bogey at the par-three 10th, then came back with four birdies in a row from the 12th hole to lead by two shots over a jam-packed score board. There were seven players tied for the lead after she had played 12 holes.
Wessberg then three-putted the par-three 16th to lead by just one with two holes to play.
Davies, the 2007 and 2008 winner, birdied the 16th to get to eight-under and then birdied the 18th before watching as Wessberg took a par at the last.
At the first play-off hole, Davies took the advantage playing her tee shot 20 feet right of the flag, while Wessberg’s shot found the bunker.
However, after they moved to the 18th tee, Wessberg’s shot split the fairway while Davies’ found the left rough. Aiming for the green, she blasted it out but watched in dismay as it plopped into the water. Having taken a drop she repeated the mistake and Wessberg was able to win with a bogey.
The win was Wessberg’s first in two years after her triumphs in Wales and France in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
“I thought I’d lost it on number 10 when I made a double,” Wessberg said. “I told my mum, “whatever, just forget about it,” and we made four birdies in a row and then we came back.” Her mum, Elisabeth, was on caddie duty.
“I’m just so happy that I can actually show myself that I am able to win again. I had been struggling with a shoulder injury and stuff but I still played and I probably shouldn’t have. Mentally it was really hard.”
Wessberg has played on the LPGA Tour for the last three years but returned to Europe in June, where she plans to stay for the foreseeable future, at least for the rest of the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Davies, who has also struggled in the US in recent weeks, began two strokes behind entering the final round and came through the field with five birdies and two bogeys.
“I played well but at the end of the day second is the best loser. I’m very disappointed,” she said. “If I’d hit the fairway I would have had a nice easy five iron into the green. It’s just one of those things. I had a 50/50 lie in the rough and I went for it, because you go for it in a playoff. It came out a little bit right and went into the water because it was wet, I suppose. The next shot was a shocker. What can you do?”
Last year’s European No.1 Gwladys Nocera from France (69) finished in a tie for third at eight-under with Germany’s Bettina Hauert (71) and Ireland’s Hazel Kavanagh (72), who recorded her best finish in eight seasons as a pro.
Kavanagh was three-over for the round after three holes but fought back with three birdies from the fifth. She double bogeyed the second after her ball came to rest in a pine tree and bogeyed the next.
“I got off to a shaky start but I’m thrilled,” said Kavanagh. “The first time I looked at the leader board was 18. I thought I would just go for the birdie.”
Italian Veronica Zorzi (71) was sixth on seven-under, with Marjet van der Graaff from the Netherlands a shot back in seventh, which was her career best finish in two years on tour.