- Nuria Iturrioz wins inaugural La Sella Open to take home €150,000
- Spaniard comes from behind to beat Laura Fuenfstueck in a playoff
Spain can celebrate another home champion tonight after Nuria Iturrioz clinched her fourth Ladies European Tour (LET) title in dramatic style with a playoff victory at the inaugural La Sella Open.
Trailing by four shots prior to the final round, the Spaniard had the back-nine of her life as she carded one eagle and three birdies to post a 67 (-5) and take Germany’s Laura Fuenfstueck to sudden death.
After the pair both birdied the par-5 18th to tie again, it was back up to the closing hole where Fuenfstuek found trouble down the left to eventually fall to a bogey.
The mishap would give Iturrioz two putts for the victory as she rolled in the second from close range to seal the deal and lift title number four on the LET – her first since 2019.
“I’m very happy, all I can say is Vamos!” the Spaniard said. “It’s been an amazing week. I’m happy to win in Spain. The support has been amazing. I hope this tournament lasts for a while because I love this course. I don’t know how the phone is now going to be!”
Iturrioz faced an uphill battle from the off when she bogeyed the challenging par-4 1st hole. The 27-year-old immediately bounced back with a birdie on the 2nd before she was forced to play catch up again with a dropped shot on the 4th – one which saw her trail by five shots with 14 holes remaining.
“Starting today with a bogey I couldn’t imagine this,” Iturrioz said. “But we fought for it, together with my caddie. I always try to push.”
After a clutch birdie on the 7th helped the home favourite regain composure, the par-5 12th proved the turning point as Iturrioz dialled one in to five-feet for eagle.
She explained: “The walk from 11 to 12 is a bit long. So I was talking with my caddie to go for it more, to trust in what I was doing. So I turned to the driver and hit a 5-iron into the pin which helped me make an easy eagle. From there I was like, ok, I’m happy, let’s do what I do.”
Thanks to one of the shots of the tournament, we soon had a battle on our hands with Kjellker and Fuenfstueck tied at the top on 10-under par and England’s Cara Gainer one adrift after chipping in for eagle on the 12th.
The Englishwoman would soon join the pair with a birdie on the 18th to take the clubhouse lead, before Iturrioz went one better birdying the 17th and 18th to move to 11-under par.
After Kjellker – the leader from rounds one and two – falling out of contention, it was left to Fuenfstuek to force the matter who obliged in style as she birdied the closing hole to take Iturrioz to the playoff.
But with the Spaniard clinching victory on the second sudden death hole, Iturrioz becomes her nation’s second LET winner of the season and takes home the €150,000 cash prize.
“It’s been tough the past two years, so this is a really really good win,” she said. “I want to now focus on the LET. I’ll go home and celebrate with my family and help them with whatever they need!”
With Fuenfstueck and Gainer taking solo second and third respectively, Czechia’s Kristyna Napoleaova finished outright fourth on nine-under par after battling through illness this week.
On finishing third, Gainer said: “I certainly wasn’t expecting to come from so far behind. I’m really happy with how I played. It was a bit of a grind towards the end. I got a bit tired in the heat but it was the same for everyone and I’m really happy with six-under par.”
Thailand’s Trichat Cheenglab, Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist, and Germany’s Alexandra Forsterling ended the week in a tie for fifth on eight-under par.
One worse than the trio was France’s Anne-Charlotte Mora in solo eighth, with Kjellker, Germany’s Olivia Cowan, and home favourite Carmen Alonso rounding off the top-10 in T9 on six-under par.
In the 2023 Race to Costa del Sol, Spain’s Ana Peláez Triviño extends her tally at the top to 1,409.20 points after finishing T21 on home soil. Gainer moves to seventh thanks to a stellar final day at La Sella Golf Resort & Spa, while Iturrioz jumps to 11th on 868.88 points after claiming 500.00 for her home victory.
Next up on the LET is the first European Major of the season at the Amundi Evian Championship. Follow all the action on @LETGolf on Instagram and Twitter and Ladies European Tour on Facebook and YouTube – #RaiseOurGame.