England’s Melissa Reid took the first title of the 2017 Ladies European Tour season, the Oates Vic Open, when she defeated Germany’s Sandra Gal on the third extra hole in a sudden death play-off at 13th Beach Golf Links in Australia.
On a blustery afternoon in Barwon Heads which saw winds gusts up to 55 kilometres per hour, the lead switched hands several times before Sandra Gal set the clubhouse lead at 16-under-par after firing a superb four-under-round 69.
Reid had a chance to win on the 72nd hole of the tournament after hitting a superb three-wood to the front of the green on the par-518th hole, but took three putts from long range to send the tournament into extra time. On the first play-off hole, both players made par after Reid once again took three putts from the edge of the green, with the second extra hole almost being a carbon copy of the first.
The third time around, Gal hit her third shot just over the back of the green and failed to get up and down leaving Reid with a putt from a metre to win.
The 29-year-old from Derby, who had led by two overnight, made no mistakes this time and holed out confidently to earn her sixth Ladies European Tour title and the first prize cheque of AU$75,000.
After winning her first ever play-off, Reid said: “It was honestly brutal out there. That’s one of the toughest winds that I’ve had, especially with the start that I got. I didn’t feel I’d hit a bad shot in the first five holes so to be three over after four was unreal. It was a true test of golf, you know, and brought a lot of character out so I’m over the moon that I managed to get the win.
“One of the best rounds I’ve ever shot was in the second round at Turnberry and it was very similar to that. Fair play to Sandra: four-under today was an incredible score.
“I’ve done it before and I knew the front nine was going to be the hard nine and Benji kept saying to me, there are a lot of opportunities. That was a huge eagle, on five, and I hit a great shot into six and three whacked that, got lucky on seven and pretty steady from then on. It was one of the best pars I’ve ever had, on 15, because my lie for my second shot was in a sand divot, it was awful. That was a big par save and then a big putt on 16 and another on 17. You’ve just got to hang in there, because there are a lot of holes to go and with the conditions, people can make double bogeys out there.
“I wanted to get to 17 (under). We knew Sandra was on 16 (under) and it would have been nice to birdie the 18th but it worked out alright in the end.
“I’ve got a good feeling about this year and I don’t know what it is. I had a good feeling about this week. It was my mum’s birthday on Tuesday so I knew that something good had to happen. We were warming up on the putting green and my mum’s favourite film was Dirty Dancing, and they were playing the theme tune to Dirty Dancing, and I said to Benji, ‘I’ve just got a feeling about this week, it’s fate, you know?’ Then I made a seven on the second and re-thought it.
“I always come out there thinking I’m going to win. It’s just nice to put myself in that position and get over the line. Winning a golf tournament is the hardest thing to do. I’m just very, very happy I’ve managed to win in Australia.
“The way I’m hitting it, and striking it, I could have been 20-under but it was just my putter that let me down.
“I said yesterday, I just feel very at home here and I really like the way of life. I feel very comfortable and we’ve got a great house this week, staying with Laura (Davies) and the boys and Rebecca Artis and Geoff. I always seem to enjoy myself and I always look forward to this trip every year.”
Australia Su Oh from Victoria tied for third place with American teenager Angel Yin, while South Korean amateur Hye-Jin Choi was fifth.
Australians Hannah Green and Whitney Hillier both had solid weeks finishing in a tie for 6th place with England’s Holly Clyburn, Tonje Daffinrud of Norway, Belen Mozo from Spain and South Korean Eun Jeong Seong.
New South Welshman Dimi Papadatos took out the men’s Oates Vic Open title defeating Jake McLeod and Adam Bland by two shots.