DUBLIN, IRELAND (28th June 2009) — Italy’s Diana Luna hit 18 greens en route to a stunning final round of 68 and claimed her first tour win in five years at the AIB Ladies Irish Open supported by Failte Ireland.
The 26-year-old from Rome gave a master class in links golf on a testing day near Dublin to claim the first prize of €75,000 and the Tipperary Crystal trophy.
She battled through two lengthy fog delays to post four birdies over Portmarnock Links. She carded three birdies going out, on the sixth, seventh and ninth holes for an outward total of 33 before heading back in 35 after a final birdie at the par-five 13th.
Having started the day with a one shot lead, she finished four clear of three players with a winning three-round total of 11-under-par and victory never looked in doubt.
“I am very happy with the way I played. I hit 18 greens and was always putting. I never had to chip the whole way round so it was a great day for me,” said the 2004 Tenerife Ladies Open champion, who finished second three weeks ago in Holland.
She has been working hard on technique with her coach Roger Damiano at Cannes Mougins in recent weeks and estimated that she has put 20 metres on her driving distance since the end of 2008.
“I worked very hard physically and worked on my technique as well, to keep all the fundamentals good and to improve the swing, which helped me a lot on this course. Last year there were a few bunkers that I couldn’t fly with my driver and this year I could fly them easily so actually this year it was like a different course,” she said.
Luna secured a place in the Evian Masters tournament in France next month, where she will feel right at home as a Cannes resident. She also jumped eight places to second on the LET’s Henderson Money List; a sign of her recent form.
Tied for second on seven-under were Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera (69), English first year player Florentyna Parker (70) and Swede Sophie Gustafson (71), three-times an Irish Open winner.
“I had a little bit of trouble finding my rhythm after the fog delay but I came back and made a few birdies towards the end. I couldn’t really get anything going. Diana played very solid and hats off to her. I would have liked to give her a little bit more of a run for her money but it was nice to be out in the last group and be in contention again,” Gustafson said.
Nocera’s round of 69 was disappointing by her own high standards, but she said, “I’m much better. I couldn’t have played better but I just didn’t make a putt. ” She will defend at next week’s SAS Ladies Masters in Norway, where she feels she stands a strong chance.
Parker was thrilled to have sealed her career best finish, while Scottish rookie Krystle Caithness (70) was another British amateur who coped well, finishing in outright fifth on six-under-par.
England’s Melissa Reid carded 73 and slipped back to sixth on five-under-par, with Frenchwoman Sophie Giquel in seventh.
Elosegui was seven-under for the day after 12 holes, thanks to a hole-in-one at the 11th, but eventually signed for a 70 and a share of 15th place.