When Julia Engström tees off in the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España Femenino at La Quinta Golf & Resort on Thursday, she will be taking the battle for the 2018 LET Rookie of the Year Award down to the wire.
The Swedish schoolgirl leads the Rookie Ranking with 149.15 points after 11 events and is well positioned to become the youngest ever recipient of the award.
On Sunday November 25, she will be aged 17 years, seven months and 29 days, where Charley Hull was aged 17 years, eight months and 17 days when she won the award on December 7, 2013. That year, Hull finished sixth on the Order of Merit.
However, there are four other women in the field who can deny Engström, including her closest challenger, Frenchwoman Manon Mollé, as a victory in the tournament is worth 150 Order of Merit points. The five Rookies in the field, who all have a mathematical chance to win, are as follows:
The 17-year-old, who is in her final year of high school studies, has had a consistent year and starts the week ranked 16th on the LET Order of Merit.
The highlights of her season include winning a bronze medal in the inaugural European Mixed Team Championships at the Gleneagles PGA Centenary Course with Johanna Gustavsson, Oscar Floren and Daniel Jennervret. As an individual, her best result so far, from 11 starts, has been 5th in the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco.
She has also enjoyed success on the LET Access Series, where she won two titles from six appearances: the Viaplay Ladies Finnish Open, in June, and the season-ending Santander Golf Tour LETAS El Prat in Spain, on 10th November.
Manon Mollé (above, left)
Mollé starts the week ranked 20th on the Order of Merit with 139.59 points, and only 9.56 points behind Engström. She would need to finish 31st or better in Spain if the Swede misses the cut, or if Engström has a top-10, she would need to finish fifth or better.
The 24-year-old from Brittany, who bases herself in the golfing paradise of Marrakesh, Morocco, has made a great start to her professional career with two top-10 finishes from 12 starts so far. She ended sixth in the Ladies European Thailand Championship and ninth at the Hero Women’s Indian Open last month. Among the highlights was her silver medal in the European Team Championships at Gleneagles, representing France with Justine Dreher.
She has also played in four events on the LET Access Series, with her three top-10s on the circuit including a tie for second in the Belfius Open in Belgium.
The 30-year-old from Baerum in Norway starts the week ranked 57th on the Order of Merit and would need to finish second or better if Engström missed the cut.
Engzelius has made six cuts from nine starts on the LET in 2018 including a best finish of second behind Meghan MacLaren in the Women’s New South Wales Open in Coffs Harbour. She has also played in four LET Access Series events and won the season-opening Terre Blanche Ladies Open with rounds of 67 and 69 after the final round was cancelled due to adverse weather.
The 19-year-old starts the week ranked 65th on the Order of Merit. She has made five cuts in 2018 including her best finish, 14th in the Oates Vic Open in Australia. She needs to win the tournament to have a chance of becoming the Rookie of the Year.
Piti Martinez Bernal
The 30-year-old from Cadiz has a mathematical chance but nothing less than a victory will get her over the line. She has received a sponsor’s invitation into the event and is looking to make her first cut on home soil.
Rookie of the Year Winners Through the Years:
1984 Kitrina Douglas £19,900.00
1985 Laura Davies £21,736.00
1986 Patricia Gonzalez £7,570.00
1987 Trish Johnson £35,718.00
1988 Laurette Maritz £29,362.00
1989 Helen Alfredsson £20,355.00
1990 Pearl Sinn £28,407.00
1991 Helen Wadsworth £17,765.00
1992 Sandrine Mendiburu £26,896.00
1993 Annika Sorenstam £55,927.00
1994 Tracy Hanson £44,205.00
1995 Karrie Webb £90,556.00
1996 Anne-Marie Knight £31,322.00
1997 Anna Berg £19,333.00
1998 Laura Philo £26,574.00
1999 Elaine Ratcliffe £12,146.00
2000 Giulia Sergas £21,335.00
2001 Suzann Pettersen £129,546.00
2002 Kirsty S Taylor €52,903.90
2003 Rebecca Stevenson €70,065.38
2004 Minea Blomqvist €105,020.61
2005 Elisa Serramia €36,366.59
2006 Nikki Garrett €99,445.05
2007 Louise Stahle €79,678.66
2008 Melissa Reid €136,606.00
2009 Anna Nordqvist €100,966.44
2010 In-Kyung Kim €193,194.69
2011 Caroline Hedwall €278,528.87
2012 Carlota Ciganda €251,289.95
2013 Charley Hull €135,994.36
2014 Amy Boulden €83,982.17
2015 Emily Kristine Pedersen €171,688.41
2016 Aditi Ashok €206,664.97
2017 Camille Chevalier €64,002.98