From glory at Gleneagles to festivities in Kenya, here are our standout moments from the 2019 Ladies European Tour…
Europe wins The Solheim Cup
It had been a long time since Colorado in 2013 for European fans to celebrate. Too long. This was the moment to put that right and an opportunity for home glory at Gleneagles in Scotland. Captain Catriona Matthew and her team grabbed it with both hands.
Number 16 produced one of the greatest fightbacks in golf history for Europe to snatch a dramatic 14 ½ – 13 ½ victory over America.
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) September 15, 2019
For the last 45 minutes of a truly enthralling contest it looks as if the visitors would emerge as victors but that was before Anna Nordqvist, Bronte Law and Suzann Pettersen conspired to turn the result completely on its head.
The Americans needed just half a point from the last three games to retain the trophy but first Nordqvist beat Morgan Pressel and then Law came from behind to snatch a win over Ally McDonald before Pettersen completed one of golf’s greatest acts of escapology with a winning birdie putt against Marina Alex on the last.
What happened next was a huge outpour of emotion – a roar to the crowds, a hug with Suzann’s son and the realisation that Team Europe were champions.
An unforgettable week and one of the highlights on the world’s sporting calendar in 2019.
The last woman standing on the 18th green of the PGA Centenary Course in the final match against Marina Alex, the result of the entire contest rested on Suzann’s shoulders.
With the Cup on the line, she rolled in an eight-foot putt for birdie to deliver the winning point and her comeback is one of the most remarkable redemption stories in sport.
Having been cast as the ‘big black wolf’ after ‘gimme-gate’ in Germany in 2015, Suzann arrived at Gleneagles as a controversial captain’s pick having played just twice during season following the birth of her son, Herman, but that didn’t stop her combining with Anne Van Dam to beat Danielle Kang 4 & 2 before delivering the winning point against Marina Alex in the singles.
Moments after holing the winning putt, the 38-year-old Norwegian confirmed she would be hanging up her clubs with immediate effect, having won two majors, 15 LPGA tour titles, seven Ladies European Tour titles and having made nine Solheim Cup appearances for Europe.
Thanks for the memories, Suzann.
— Sportswomen (@SportswomenSky) September 17, 2019
Catriona returns as captain
Not long after the sun had set on Europe’s celebrations at Gleneagles, Catriona Matthew began preparations for the 2021 Solheim Cup match against the United States, to be played at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, on September 4-6.
Having played in the city during her career on the LPGA, Catriona experienced the tremendous welcome and atmosphere that was created by the locals and is looking forward to seeing all European fans in Toledo to cheer the team on.
There were a record 14 hole in ones on the LET during the 2019 season, so the shot of the year is hard to choose!
However, Whitney Hillier’s ace on the 17th during round two of the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open, in the company of Premier League referee Mike Dean as her caddie, was the most popular. According to our sources, this was the most highly watched of any golf clip on SkySports.com in 2019.
Wishing @WhitneyHillier a very happy birthday 🎂
— Ladies European Tour (@LETgolf) December 1, 2019
— Ladies European Tour (@LETgolf) November 29, 2019
There was also this hole-out from Nanna Koerstz Madsen during the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España at Aloha Golf Club, which was impossible to ignore!
💥EAGLE TIME 💥
— Ladies European Tour (@LETgolf) December 1, 2019
First mixed tournament with Challenge Tour and Staysure Tour
History was made at the Jordan Mixed Open presented by Ayla earlier this year when two-time Ladies European Tour winner Meghan MacLaren, 2018 Staysure Tour Rookie of the Year Paul Streeter and Dan Huizing, the 28 year old Challenge Tour player who ultimately prevailed by two strokes, battled for the same trophy and first prize.
The ground-breaking tournament brought together players from the Ladies European Tour, European Challenge Tour and Staysure Tour in an innovative format that created significant interest globally. In addition to strong mainstream media coverage, early metrics showed the European Tour app experienced a tenfold increase in traffic compared to the 2018 high for a Challenge Tour or Staysure Tour event, clearly underlining the appetite that exists for women’s golf.
Nuria Iturrioz’s win under the Dubai Lights
A week on from winning her second LET title at the Lalla Meryem Cup, basking in sunshine, Nuria Iturrioz faced a different challenge to win her third LET title at the inaugural Dubai Moonlight Classic.
Under floodlights, the 23-year-old from Palma de Mallorca held off the challenge of Esther Henseleit and Olivia Cowan to claim a rare pair of consecutive tournaments.
Playing under the lights proved to be a popular innovation with players and fans alike, while the event showcased what an incredible destination Dubai has become with an extended golfing season and the opportunity to play until midnight.
Diksha Dagar’s maiden victory
It was a fairy tale start to life as a professional golfer for Diksha Dagar, who claimed her maiden LET win at the Investec South African Women’s Open as a rookie.
This came on just her fourth professional start, after a superb performance at Westlake Golf Club. Inspired by a magical chip-in on the 16th hole, the 19-year-old left hander from New Delhi tapped in for par at the final hole to edge out former three-time champion Lee-Anne Pace by a stroke, securing a winner’s category and heralding a bright future.
Annabel Dimmock’s first win
Another fresh face in the LET winner’s circle was Annabel Dimmock, who triumphed at the Jabra Ladies Open. Annabel faced stiff opposition in Pauline Roussin Bouchard, a member of the Evian Resort Golf Club who had been playing at the venue since the age of 10. Both qualified for the Evian Championship and played in the fifth major.
Carly Booth back in the winner’s circle
It took Carly Booth 2,625 days to become a Ladies European Tour champion again.
Booth had won the Aberdeen Ladies Scottish Open and the Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open in 2012 and it took another seven years, two months and eight days to end the victory drought at the Tipsport Czech Ladies Open. The wait was worth it… and Carly has her confidence again.
Wolf’s breakthrough triumph
It was redemption for Christine Wolf in the Hero Women’s Indian Open at DLF Golf and Country Club, where just the previous year she had come agonisingly close. The 18th hole had proved her nemesis in 2018, as she played it in eight-over-par, including a quadruple bogey in the third round and then a double in the last, when she had been leading by three but again played her wedge shot into the lake to lose by two, to Becky Morgan. She banished her demons and silenced her critics by hitting nerveless wedges over the lake on all four tournament days and she sealed the win with a tap-in par on the spectacular, downhill par-5 18th.
First ever tournament in Kenya
A new tournament in Kenya to close the season marked the 40th country visited in the 41-year history of the Ladies European Tour and the ‘Magical Kenya Ladies Open’ lived up to it’s name, exceeding all requirements to make the inaugural tournament a great success.
U.COM Event’s hard work in staging the tournament at Vipingo Ridge was rewarded when their star player, Esther Henseleit, lifted the trophy and Managing Director Dirk Glittenberg hailed it as the best Christmas present ever.
🏆 ESTHER HENSELEIT 🏆
Esther fires a final round 6⃣4⃣ to win @KenyaLadiesOpen on -14
1⃣ Magical Kenya Ladies Open
1⃣ Order of Merit
1⃣ Rookie of the Year
— Ladies European Tour (@LETgolf) December 8, 2019
Esther Henseleit crowned order of merit winner and rookie of the year
It’s safe to say this year’s order of merit race went right to the wire. Marianne Skarpnord and Esther Henseleit were the main contenders, with only 94 points separating the two entering the final round of the season.
In the end, it was the young rookie who sealed the title, with Henseleit becoming the first German player to win the accolade and only the third player in history to win the order of merit and rookie award in the same year.
What an incredible rookie season for Esther Henseleit becoming only the third player to win the Order of Merit & Rookie of the Year 👏🏻
1985 Dame Laura Davies 🏆🏆
2012 Carlota Ciganda 🏆🏆
2019 Esther Henseleit 🏆🏆 pic.twitter.com/oTDJrQ5Fqm
— Ladies European Tour (@LETgolf) December 14, 2019
Marianne Skarpnord Players’ Player of the Year
After years of struggles and doubt, Marianne Skarpnord won her first title since 2013, at the Pacific Bay Resort Australian Ladies Classic at Bonville Golf Resort. Win number four and a chance to top the order of merit, it was just snatched away at the last minute. However, second in Europe was her best finish in 16 years as a professional and her fellow members voted for her as their player of the year.
Georgia Hall awarded MBE
Georgia Hall on collecting her MBE after being awarded it in the Queen’s Birthday Honour List in June this year.
Georgia was awarded her MBE by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace. Georgia attended the ceremony with her Mother, Grandmother and partner, Harry, who proudly supported her as she received the award. The 23-year-old from Bournemouth was the LET No.1 in 2017 and 2018. In August last year, her two-shot victory at the AIG Women’s British Open marked the fifth win for a British woman at a major championship.
Race to Costa del Sol
The Ladies European Tour Order of Merit will be renamed the ‘Race to Costa del Sol’ from 2020, with an additional bonus pool of €250,000, split between the top three finishers.
This means that whoever tops the ranking will receive an additional €125,000, with the second highest finisher receiving €75,000 and €50,000 for the third placed player following the season-long race.
The Race to Costa del Sol will showcase the tourism excellence of both the Costa del Sol whilst providing a tremendous incentive for the LET players all year long.
Joint venture with the LPGA
The LET and LPGA will unite in a joint venture partnership to push women’s professional golf to new heights in Europe and around the world from 2020. The combination of the LET’s European expertise and relationships in the region, with the LPGA’s global strength and worldwide exposure, and their shared vision for the future of women’s professional golf and growth of the game, provides the core ingredients to ignite European women’s golf.