Astrid Vayson de Pradenne and Karolin Lampert qualify for The Evian Championship
Astrid Vayson de Pradenne said it was the best day of her life after winning the Jabra Ladies Open at Evian Resort Golf Course in Evian-les-Bains, France.
The 32-year-old Frenchwoman defeated German Karolin Lampert with a birdie on the first extra hole, the par-4 18th, to earn a winner’s exemption to the Ladies European Tour and qualify for two Majors, the Ricoh Women’s British Open and The Evian Championship.
The Jabra Ladies Open was the first ‘Dual Ranking’ event on the Ladies European Tour and the LET Access Series and offered two qualification spots to The Evian. By finishing second, Lampert also sealed her place in the fifth Major in September.
It was just the second cut made by Vayson de Pradenne in a Ladies European Tour event, although she had twice finished as a runner-up on the LET Access Series, at the 2017 Castellum Open and 2016 Azores Open.
“I came here as an outsider because I have a very small career money,” she said. “I have some earnings from one tournament in 2014 on the Ladies European Tour. As an outsider and just being focused, making it to the end and winning a play-off with a birdie on the 18th hole with 100 or 200 people watching and a loud crowd, they will be very special memories for me.
“You try so hard for years and years and nothing really happens, being so close. Now this is real and I still feel like I’m dreaming. I’m like a bird and I’m not on the ground yet. I can’t believe I’m going to play in The Evian Championship and the Ricoh Women’s British Open at nearly 33 years old. I mean, come on! Anybody can try. You just have to persevere, no matter what some people say. You have to truly believe in your dreams and make it happen.”
Finland’s Ursula Wikstrom began the day with a two-stroke lead and Felicity Johnson took the advantage after four holes, but Vayson de Pradenne became the outright leader after nine and from there it became a duel down the stretch with Lampert.
The charismatic Frenchwoman, who only picked up golf at the age of 15 and reduced her handicap to scratch in two years, made a big birdie putt on the 17th green to get to seven-under-par and left her uphill birdie putt in the jaws on 18 in regulation play.
Lampert, playing in the next group, then missed putts wide of the hole on holes 17 and 18 to tie on seven-under and the pair returned to the 18th tee on a glorious day at the Evian Resort.
Vayson de Pradenne had the honour and the chance to pile on the pressure, but both players split the fairway before playing excellent approach shots into the green. After Lampert’s downhill putt again edged left of the hole, Vayson de Pradenne made her downhill putt from eight feet before falling to her knees and then being sprayed in champagne.
Explaining why she had unusually recruited caddie Eric Black on the back of the 15th green, she said: “I started the first 15 holes on my own. I’m a Christian, so I prayed a lot. It was over and over. It was almost becoming like a mantra, to keep the mind quiet. After 15, I saw Eric Black in the crowd and I said, ‘do you think you can join me for the last part of the day?’ and I’m just glad he said yes. It made a difference and without a good caddie by my side I probably wouldn’t have won today. I like the way things are just connected and Eric could have been having a pint, but he was there on that green. The little things worked well so I could win today.”
When asked how she would celebrate the win, the part-time physiotherapist explained: “I’m from Chateau-neuf-de-pap, but I don’t tend to drink a lot of red wine, so I’ll probably drink some champagne and maybe some white as well.”
Sweden’s Cajsa Persson fired a final round of 64 to finish in third place on five-under-par, followed by Johnson in fourth place and rookie Cloe Frankish with Wikstrom in joint fifth.
The third Jabra Ladies Open was a huge success for European women’s golf and has whet the appetite for another gripping Evian Championship this year.