Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen powered her way to LET history at the inaugural Aramco Saudi Ladies International with a dramatic birdie on the first play-off hole to win her second LET title of the season from major winner Georgia Hall, after the pair tied in regulation at ten-under-par.
As a result of the victory, the 24-year-old Dane extends her lead to an almost unassailable position atop the Race to Costa del Sol and collects the season’s largest winner’s check, outside of the majors, of €150,000.
“It’s very special, I am very happy that I got to be the first person to win a tournament here and I think it is great that we are playing here. The country has a bright future in golf and hopefully we’ll be back for many years.”
She continued, “I’m really proud that I got it back twice, I feel like I was out of it at the start of the front nine, then again at the start of the back nine but I kept fighting back.”
Trailing by as many as three shots with five holes to play from major winner Hall at Royal Greens & Country Club, Pedersen refused to give up despite her roller coaster round which had already included four birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey by the 12th.
“Mikey (her caddie) said to me after 12: ‘We’re only two behind, this is getting exciting now.’ I was just plugging away trying to make birdies and I knew Georgia was playing super steady, so I knew I had to get at least two birdies in, and I did.”
Speaking of Mikey, Pedersen may not have the pleasure of his company every week on Tour, due to the fact he generally loops for LPGA major winner So Yeon Ryu but benefitted from his guile down the stretch.
Standing on the 18th hole one behind Hall, who has been a model of consistency all week, the former Solheim Cup star made the confident decision to go for the tricky par five green in two with a three wood from 240 yards, despite being down wind and the flag located in a difficult back right hole location, to set herself up for a grandstand eagle finish.
“I changed my strategy on the 18th. I’ve hit driver the last three days, but I’ve been a bit off and with the flag on the right side we talked about laying it up left and accessing the back pin. I knew I had to make a birdie on the last and I just kind of felt the shot. It was one of the best shots I’ve ever hit.”
Narrowly missing for a closing eagle from 12ft and the outright victory, a birdie was enough to match Hall’s par, with extra holes needed to separate the pair – who have been friends since they first met aged 12 and have risen through the junior and professional ranks together.
More drama ensued, with Pedersen short siding herself in two as she tried to replicate her regulation heroics and, with Hall in the middle of the fairway, it appeared as if the Englishwoman held the advantage.
But winning is never easy, no matter how many times you do it.
An out of character shot into the water by Hall with a four-iron opened the door for Pedersen and she walked through in sensational fashion, hitting a delightful chip to four feet from behind the bunker, before rolling home for a winning birdie.
Gracious in defeat, Hall showed her class, commenting, “I played well today, and it was certainly windier than yesterday. It was just a shame my putt on 18 didn’t go in. Emily hit an amazing shot on the last hole in regulation and it was very brave. I’m really pleased for her as she’s a really nice girl and she hit a fantastic chip (in the playoff) and that’s where I lost it.”
With only two events left in the 2020 season, next week’s Saudi Ladies Team International gets underway as soon as Tuesday 17 November, with more details to follow on all the teams and much more.
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