Before the start of the 2021 Ladies European Tour season, we are looking back at some of the highlights from last year. First up on memory lane we are reflecting on some of the best moments of 2020…
A theme running through last season was the fact that several players claimed their first victory on Tour. The year kicked off with Stephanie Kyriacou storming to an emphatic eight-shot victory in the Geoff King Motors Australian Ladies Classic Bonville. The Australian was still an amateur at the time and it was the 10th tournament victory by an amateur in the history of the LET.
Next up was Julia Engstrom, who clinched her breakthrough victory at the Women’s NSW Open. The Swedish star had previously won twice on the LET Access Series in 2018. Later in the year, Engstrom followed up her strong start with another win at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France and she finished second in the Race to Costa del Sol.
The third tournament of the season saw another first-time winner. Alice Hewson claimed victory at the Investec South African Women’s Open in what was the first start of her LET career. The Clemson University graduate came from behind three strokes behind to win by a stroke on her professional debut.
Amy Boulden also secured her breakthrough win in 2020. The Welsh player had previously triumphed on the LET Access Series back in 2014 at the Association Suisse de Golf Ladies Open. After winning Qualifying School at La Manga Club in January, Boulden topped the standings on Tour for the first time when she clinched a three-stroke victory at the VP Bank Swiss Ladies Open.
Popov has Major moment
History was made at the 2020 AIG Women’s Open. Sophia Popov pulled off a remarkable victory at Royal Troon when she became the first German to win a women’s major championship. Headed into the week she was ranked 304 on the Rolex Rankings, so she also became the highest ranked player to claim victory at the championship.
A few weeks before the tournament, Popov had caddied at the LPGA Drive On Championship for best friend Anne Van Dam. The then 27-year-old qualified for championship a week later when she finished T9 at the Marathon Classic, and she followed that up with a T2 finish on the Symetra Tour in Arizona.
The German took control when she produced a bogey-free third round and held a three-shot lead from Thailand’s Jasmine Suwannapura and Australia’s Minjee Lee. Popov closed the tournament with a final round of 68 (-3) to finish at seven-under-par and cap off a stunning weekend which saw her claim the $675,000 first place prize.
Kyriacou claims ‘Rookie of the Year’
Following on from her breakthrough victory at the Geoff King Motors Australian Ladies Classic, Stephanie Kyriacou went on to clinch the prestigious ‘LET Rookie of the Year’ title. Due to the Australian being a ‘non-member’ at the time of her initial victory, any points accrued at Bonville didn’t count towards the title race. But that didn’t stop the rising star who put in a series of exceptional performances to claim the title by 92 points from England’s Alice Hewson.
Once the season restarted, Kyriacou travelled back to the Tour and competed in her first major championship. She went on to record two runner-up finishes, as well as a further three top-five results and became the third Australian golfer to win the title following in the footsteps of Rebecca Stevenson (2003) and Niiki Garrett (2006). The ‘rookie’ class of 2020 will compete for the title again this season, so the Australian star has a chance to become the first-ever two-time ‘Rookie of the Year’.
Resurgence and domination of Emily Kristine Pedersen
In 2015, Emily Kristine Pedersen claimed her maiden victory on the LET at the Hero Women’s Indian Open and ended the year as ‘Rookie of the Year’. She then went on to represent Team Europe at the 2017 Solheim Cup but that’s when things changed, her confidence was knocked, and she struggled. Fast forward to August 2020 and the Danish star had just secured her second victory on Tour at the TIPSPORT Czech Ladies Open.
The year had been a gradual build for Pedersen, who finished T7 at the Investec SA Women’s Open – the final tournament before the Tour stopped due to the Covid-19 pandemic. She picked up where she left off when golf resumed with a T2 result at the ASI Ladies Scottish Open, and followed that up with finishing T11 at the AIG Women’s British Open before triumphing in Czech Republic. But it wasn’t plain sailing, Pedersen came back from nearly throwing away a six-shot final round lead to birdie the 17th and eagle the 18th to run out a four-shot winner.
Then came the ‘Saudi Sweep’ where she was victorious at the Saudi Ladies International beating major champion Georgia Hall in a play-off, as well as topping the individual and team standings at the Saudi Ladies Team International. Riding on the crest of a wave, Pedersen sailed to victory with her fourth trophy in a row when she recorded a four-shot victory at the Andalucía Open De España. That win ensured she claimed the inaugural Race to Costa del Sol crown by a huge 834-point margin.