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Dutch Double for Nivard in the Azores
Marieke Nivard

The 21-year-old rookie professional fired rounds of 75, 72 and 69 to finish at 216, level par for the tournament, a stroke clear of English amateur Tidy, who carded a 76, with French amateur Alexandra Vilatte two strokes further behind in third.

This was Nivard’s second victory following her maiden win at the Trophee Preven’s in France in October.

Nivard said: “I'm very happy, obviously, but I was not thinking of winning; maybe a play-off, but with a little bit of luck it was not needed. This win was completely different from the one in France because there I was in the last group, leading, but here I started six shots back and I know Kelly from the amateur times, she is a good player and I would never think she would lose so many shots in the last round.”

Nivard made her intentions clear with two birdies at the fourth and fifth holes for an outward total of 34 on an overcast and calm day at Golf de Batalha, playing in temperatures of 17 degrees Celsius. She birdied the par five 10th and then dropped her only shot of the day at the 12th but held steady through the closing stretch, picking up a fourth birdie at the par four 15th for a one under par inward nine.

“This was my best round of the tournament. The birdies on holes four and five were vital because they changed the momentum,” she continued. “That's when I started to think that I could turn everything around. I saw the leader board on the seventh and I saw I had some chances.

“I enjoyed the course, but it is not an easy one. The tee shots on the front nine are narrow and you need long iron approaches to the greens.”

As well as earning a 3448 Euro pay cheque the win elevated Nivard to pole position on the 2011 LETAS Order of Merit.

Her 15106.25 points from seven events played over the season was enough to eclipse second placed Henrietta Zuel from England, with 13616.25 points from four events played, who has also won two LETAS events this year.

“Both wins were important, the same, because they took me to number one in the ranking and a spot on the 2012 Ladies European Tour. I can't wait for the next season,” said Nivard, who finished 42nd at LET Final Qualifying School for 2011 in December. She has played in 10 LET events this season with her best finish a tie for 38th at the Allianz Ladies Slovak Open.

“Even if I played ten tournaments this year, it is different playing with a full season Tour card,” she said.

Tidy vowed to use the lessons learned in the Azores at LET Qualifying School for 2012 at La Manga Club in Spain in January.

Tidy commented: “It was a hard day. I knew that I was holing all the putts in the previous rounds and that one day they would not get in so easily and that day was today. You have to make the putts in order to win and I did not make any.

“I never thought I had it lost but I saw she was playing really well and that I needed a level par round or a one over to win. I saw the leader board on the 15th and for me it is important to know the scores, but I couldn’t make it.

“I'm going to take a lot of positives from this tournament. I always say that the losers learn more than the winners and I am proud of what I've done. I'm going to practice for Q-School and we'll see what happens.”

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