Lalla Meryem Cup
Round 4 - Spilková wins Lalla Meryem CupApril 16, 2017
Klára Spilková became the first Czech player to win a Ladies European Tour event with a one stroke victory over Suzann Pettersen at the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco.
The 22-year-old from Prague fired a final round of 66 on the Blue Course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam – which tied the best round of the week with Georgia Hall – and came from four strokes back to claim her first win with a 72-hole total of eight-under-par 280.
Overnight leader Pettersen had a 15-foot birdie putt to tie on the 18th green, but her effort came up just short.
Spilková, who represented the Czech Republic in the Olympic Games in August, was meditating on the practice putting green when she learned the news and she said: “I’m so happy, it’s crazy.”
This was her first start on the LET in 2017, although she warmed up with a fourth-place finish in the Terre Blanche Ladies Open on the LET Access Series last week.
“I just took almost a two month break to work on myself more than anything else. I didn’t play much golf. I was trying to get my mind in the right place and it worked. I feel much better than last year. The hardest challenge is always your ego. I just won for myself, because I felt no ego. I can’t believe it. It’s just great. I don’t really have any emotions now.”
The seventh-year LET member first played in the tournament as a 16-year-old rookie in 2011, the year that her friend and mentor, Zuzana Kamasova, from Slovakia, won the title in Agadir to become the LET’s first winner from Eastern Europe.
Spilková said: “I was thinking about Zuzana as I walked down the 18th and I’m going to call her tonight.” With a first prize cheque of 67,500 euros, she will now move to the top of the LET Order of Merit.
Pettersen signed off with a 71. Having started the final round with a two-stroke lead, she was quickly caught by Annabel Dimmock, who birdied the first two holes to tie at six-under. The world number 17, Pettersen re-established her lead with a birdie on the long sixth, but then bogeyed the 10th and 15th.
Spilková made her fifth birdie of the day at the 13th to tie for the lead and then made a birdie putt of six feet on hole-14 to grab a one stroke advantage.
Pettersen made a long birdie putt on 17 but missed her chance at the final hole. She said: “Obviously I’m very disappointed not to win. I didn’t have my best game from tee to green and it’s cost me this tournament. I had a putt on the last, which ended short. It was in my hands to at least get into a play-off. I kept the hope alive with a birdie on 17 but when you shoot 66 on Sunday you should be there or thereabouts to win the tournament so credit to Spilkova.”
Dimmock signed off with a 70 to end in third place on six-under-par, while fellow Englishwoman Georgia Hall’s 66 saw her tie for fourth with Felicity Johnson on four-under.
Dimmock said: “I feel a bit disappointed but overall, I’m pleased with my week. I was pretty pleasantly surprised, but I got better every day with my swing. Even today, I didn’t hit it well off the tee, but I didn’t let it get me down. It was amazing for me to play with Suzann and I learned a lot and next time I’m in this situation I will be less nervous.”
There were also top-10 finishes for Karolin Lampert and Noora Tamminen, who were sixth and seventh respectively, while the defending champion Nuria Iturrios tied for eighth with Agathe Sauzon and Carly Booth.
Sweden’s Jenny Haglund was the best LET Rookie, in a tie for 11th position and the halfway leader Lydia Hall tied for 14th.
Round 3 - Pettersen still leading Lalla MeryemApril 15, 2017
Suzann Pettersen fired a third-round 70 at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam on Saturday and will take a one stroke lead into the final round of the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco.
The Norwegian golfer, a two-time Major winner, will be looking for her 22nd career title, having most recently lifted the silverware at the 2015 Manulife LPGA Classic.
“I hit a lot more greens today than I did yesterday. I had a lot of good looks. You have to keep the ball in the fairway around here. It’s so unpredictable, what it does out of the rough. The greens are firming up so if you are a little bit short sided it’s hard to get close. Overall, I did a decent job and I’m in a good position. I’m in the last group tomorrow and anything can happen, so I’ll try and stay aggressive,” said the eight-time Solheim Cup player.
“Patience is the key around this place. You can’t get stressed. Mistakes are as easy as good shots are. It’s a fine line and you’ve just got to try and play each hole for what it gives you and try to be aggressive where you can, because there are some holes where you can be a bit lengthy off the tee and try to take advantage and hit a shorter club into the hole. I’m looking forward to another day here in Morocco tomorrow.”
At six-under-par, Pettersen is a stroke clear of the halfway leader Lydia Hall from Wales, who held a three-stroke lead after seven holes in the third round, but lost her position with three straight birdies from the sixth followed by a double bogey at the 10th hole.
Hall said: “I got to two-under for the day after six holes but one poor decision and I didn’t execute the shot on the par-5, sixth. That cost me a shot and then a poor swing on seven cost me another shot. I managed to get up and down to save my bogey but it was one poor decision and then one bad swing. It was tricky in the middle part of the round.
“I stood on the 10th tee thinking of getting back to level par and pulled a tee shot on the left, but I settled the ship through 13, 14 and gave myself an opportunity on 17 to pull one back, so I’m in a good position for tomorrow.
“Yesterday I had no bogeys on the card, so that was really pleasing. It is going to bite you at some point, you’ve only got to miss five yards off the fairway and your underneath trees or in thick rough. The keys for me are to hit fairways and see how many greens in reg I can get and then see what I can do with the putter.”
Annabel Dimmock maintained third position with a 73 and is a stroke further behind Hall. She said: “It was weird because I’m not hitting it great off the tee and I’m playing well apart from that, but one drive got me. I hit the ball so far left, it actually hindered me by finding it. I dropped five shots in two holes but got back up and carried on and I’m surprised about where I’m sitting, for how well I played today. At the turn I was three over, so I said to my caddie, let’s get it back to level for the day. I missed a short putt on 14, the par-five, but I’m pretty happy with my back nine.”
Fellow Englishwoman Felicity Johnson tied for fourth with Krista Bakker of Finland. Johnson held the outright lead after 14 holes but dropped three strokes coming in.
Johnson said: “I saw I got into a tie for the lead but there were still a lot of holes to play so I didn’t take anything for granted. You are going to make bogeys out there. I’m still in contention for tomorrow. I’m three back and anything can happen in a round of golf. The two tournaments that I’ve won on tour, I’ve won from three back, so I know it’s very possible.”
Meanwhile Scotland’s Kelsey MacDonald had the round of the day, a 67, to climb into a tie for sixth alongside Klara Spilkova of the Czech Republic and local players Maha Haddioui and Lina Belmati are tied for 26th and 61st respectively.
The fourth round gets under way on the Blue Course at 8am on Sunday, with the leaders teeing off at 9.40am local time.
Round 2 - Suzann Pettersen takes lead in MoroccoApril 14, 2017
Norwegian Suzann Pettersen hit the front at the Lalla Meryem Cup with a second round of one-under-par 71 on the Blue Course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat on Friday morning.
At four-under-par, she opened up a two-stroke clubhouse lead ahead of playing partner Georgia Hall, Olivia Cowan, Agathe Sauzon and Yan Liu.
The 36-year-old Solheim Cup star scrambled for her score and said afterwards: “This course is not easy to play from the rough. You’ve really got to hit fairways as the greens are so small and the rough is very unpredictable. I don’t think I’ve had one great lie where you feel that you can control the ball and the spin. I’ll keep hitting fairways and try to hit more greens than I did today.”
Her five birdies came at the second, eighth, 13th, 16th and 17th holes while she dropped shots at the seventh, 11th, 14th and 18th.
“If I was a little bit older I probably would have had a heart attack, because it was up and down, up and down,” she said.
“There are birdies out there, but you don’t have to be much off. A slight mistake and the bogeys are very easy to make. It was not my best from tee to green so I have a job to do, but I’ll look forward to the weekend. If you hit fairways and greens I think you can shoot low around this place.”
After playing with Georgia Hall for the first time over the opening two rounds, Pettersen commented: “Apart from the fact that I could be her mom, she is a great golfer and I know she is leading the race for Solheim. She would be a great asset to our team. She’s a good ball striker, putts well and it’s good to have some fresh, young blood on this tour.”
Namesake Lydia Hall and Klara Spilkova, who are playing in the same three-ball, were both three-under-par after as many holes as the second round continued under clear blue skies.
Round 1 - Dryburgh leading in MoroccoApril 13, 2017
Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh opened with a four-under-par 68 to take a one stroke lead at the Lalla Meryem Cup in Rabat, Morocco.
The 23-year-old from Aberdeen had five birdies and one bogey on the Blue Course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam and said that she would go to bed happy knowing that she was ahead of Suzann Pettersen, Nicole Garcia, Klára Spilková and Lydia Hall.
“It’s a very good feeling. I’ll be up early tomorrow and get the ball rolling,” said the second-year Ladies European Tour player. “I just have to do the same thing: play my game, stick to the game plan and one shot at a time. It’s obviously very early in the tournament so I’ll keep patient.”
She picked up birdies on the second, ninth, 11th, 12th and 14th holes, with just a single mistake on the par-4 13th and added: “I played really well and my putting was especially good. I only had 20 putts and I didn’t hit that many greens. I had a couple of up and downs. The greens are immaculate, they are rolling really well and if you hit it on the right line, they will go in.”
Pettersen had a mixed round with seven birdies and four bogeys. After an errant tee shot on the 17th, her ball bounced off a cork tree back into the fairway and she recovered with a par. She then finished with a birdie on the 18th to tie for the clubhouse lead on three-under-par, after a long, straight 280-yard drive.
“Today was a little bit of everything and I’m very glad I managed to put three-under together. I really wasted some shots out there from poor positions in the fairway, so it was a little bit up and down, but I’m happy with the way I scrambled and I managed to put a three-under together.
“The greens are rolling very pure. They are very true, so whatever you see is what they do. It’s great to be here in Morocco. It’s my first time, I want to say. I was in Marrakech 20 years ago but I can’t remember much. It’s great to be here to support the tournament. Another day tomorrow and we’ll see where that takes us.”
Spilkova and Hall, who played in the same group, set the pace earlier in the day. Spilková is playing in her first LET tournament of the season and she said: “It was a really relaxed round and I only hit 10 greens, but I had 24 putts, so that helps. I had two chip-ins as well, on the last hole, the ninth and on the par-3 fourth.
“I just took a month’s rest, doing some boxing and then practising in Thailand for two weeks and I went to the LETAS event in Terre Blanche and finished really well. I was a little bit nervous on the first day I arrived here, but it’s great to be back. It’s the start of the season and I feel like, ‘let’s do it’ and I’m really motivated.”
Hall added: “At the start of the day I would have taken three-under, but I’m a little disappointed to have bogeyed the last hole. Klara and I both had 69 and kept spurring each other on.”
Moroccan Olympian Haddioui is tied for sixth with eight other players on two-under-par. She said: “I’m happy to start with this score. There was a lot of pressure and I’m expecting a lot from myself this week.”
She explained that the experience of playing with His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid in the Pro-Am helped her to cope with the added scrutiny of playing on home soil.
Meanwhile, the leading women’s score of four-under-par was one stroke better than the top score held by five male players, Lucas Bjerregaard, Gregory Havret, Gary Stal, James Morrison and Edoardo Molinari, in the Trophée Hassan II being played on the neighbouring Red course.