Ladies European Tour Rookie Nuria Iturrios from Spain won the Lalla Meryem Cup in only her second start as a professional.
The 20-year-old from Mallorca fired a sensational final round of seven-under-par 65 on the Blue Course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in torrential rain for a total of 277, 11-under-par, to end six strokes clear of overnight leader Florentyna Parker in the Moroccan capital of Rabat.
Two strokes behind going into the final round, Iturrios recorded the first of her eight birdies at the second hole to quickly move within one of the lead. Although a missed green cost her a bogey at the fourth, she immediately quickly recovered with a second birdie at the fifth and then picked up a third at the eighth to tie for the lead with Parker.
Iturrios gained a one stroke advantage with a birdie on the 10th and it looked set to become a battle of the rookies as 17-year-old American Angel Yin birdied 12 and 13 to get within one stroke of the lead. However, after Yin dropped three shots in a row, it turned into a procession for Iturrios, who birdied 15 and made a final birdie on 18 with a seven metre putt.
“This is the best day of my life and my best achievement after finishing fourth in Lalla Aicha Tour School,” said Iturrios, who qualified for the Ladies European Tour in Morocco a little over four months ago and started her career with a tie for 24th at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Women’s Open in February.
She felt that the concurrent staging of the Lalla Meryem Cup and Trophée Hassan II on the men’s European Tour at the same venue was a fantastic innovation and added: “I really enjoyed playing at the same venue my Spanish friends and colleagues on the European Tour. I had a lot of fun.”
Parker, who played with Iturrios in the final round, had 17 straight pars and a bogey on 18 in a 73 to finish second on five-under-par. She said: “I played quite nicely and I had to save a few of those pars. I had a few chances so it wasn’t quite as boring as my scorecard suggests but then again the last was a bit of a shame. It doesn’t change anything but I was going for 18 straight pars. She played really well and she deserves to win. She played incredible. It was raining from start to finish and was really hard out there so to shoot seven under is incredible. She won it and I was just hanging on basically to my pars.”
Yin finished in solo third place a stroke further back after a final round of 70. Finland’s Noora Tamminen was outright fourth on two under par and Switzerland’s Albane Valezuela was the leading amateur in a tie for fifth with Emily Kristine Pedersen and Isabelle Boineau.
Belgium’s Chloe Leurquin finished in eighth place and England’s Liz Young was among the six players sharing ninth.
Another highlight of the final round was a hole in one from Sophie Walker, who used her 6-iron to ace the 15th.
In the Trophée Hassan II being played on the Red Course, it was almost a Spanish double when Nacho Elvira set the clubhouse lead. However, he was caught by South Korean Jeunghun Wang, who won with a birdie on the second play-off hole.