Emma Nilsson was crowned the winner of the season-ending tournament on the 2017 LET Access Series: the Santander Golf Tour LETAS El Saler in Spain.
The 23-year-old Swede fired rounds of 69, 70 and 71 to finish on a total of six-under-par and win by a shot over Iceland’s Valdis Thora Jonsdottir at at Parador de El Saler in Valencia, with Norwegian Tonje Daffinrud a stroke further behind in third.
Nilsson, who carded four birdies and three bogeys in the final round, played in perfect conditions on the scenic, ocean-front course, collected her third LETAS trophy, following wins at the Pilsen Golf Challenge and Ladies Norwegian Challenge in 2014.
She said afterwards: “I was very stable. I made four birdies, which is very good on this course, but I wasn’t sure exactly about the position I was in. I knew it was pretty tight with Valdis and I needed to make birdies, but I wasn’t sure of the scores. If I would have thought I was behind, perhaps I would have putted more aggressively, but I didn’t know and thought that I should just leave it close. Otherwise, I played my own game.”
After making the turn in one-under 35, Nilsson bogeyed the 11th, but picked up a stroke on the long 15th hole to take a one stroke advantage down the last hole. She had two putts for the win after Jonsdottir missed her birdie putt.
“On the last shot I had 160 metres and I hit a five iron, a little bit downwind. I felt it was a good shot, thought “get close” and it did,” continued Nilsson, who is currently Ranked 68th on the LET.
“This win is a good boost of confidence ahead of the tournaments over the next three weeks on the LET. I’ve had a good year on the LET, I played four events and made all the cuts so I hope to have a good finish to keep my card.”
Jonsdottir, another LET member, will also be looking to secure her playing rights for 2018 over the next few weeks having finished just short of gaining her first title.
“I started off really badly and putted poorly, so I wasn’t playing my usual game from the beginning,” said the 27-year-old from Akranes, who recovered from an outward nine of 38 by coming back in 34 for a round of level par 72.
“After that, I managed to fight back with three birdies in a row from the ninth and it was like a match play situation. I pulled level on the 11th, but I had a very bad lie on 15 and made a par, rather than a birdie and I couldn’t get another birdie after that. I’m a little bit disappointed, but anyway, it’s a great result.”
Spain’s own María Palacios tied for fourth with Danish amateur Puk Lyng Thomsen and Palacios said: “I played very well throughout the tournament and the playing conditions were perfect, with some wind but lighter than we usually have here at El Saler. Yesterday’s round was windier and harder, but my game was more or less the same during the three days.”
Meghan MacLaren tied for 27th place and was confirmed as the LET Access Series Order of Merit winner. The LET Rookie has secured her Tour card for 2018, along with Valentine Derrey, Nina Muehl, Luna Sobron and Charlotte Thompson, however, the qualification spots will move further down the list if any dual member currently in the top five earns their LET exemption following the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic, which concludes on December 9.