Maja Stark and Annelie Sjoholm Photo credit: Göran Söderqvist
Sweden’s Annelie Sjoholm recorded three successive birdies on the final three holes to finish on –6 for the tournament, a score that saw her take a first LET Access Series title at the Anna Nordqvist Vasteras Open. The 23-year-old posted a four-under-par final round which saw her move from fifth position at the start of the day to clinch a one-shot victory over compatriot Maja Stark on her home course in Bjarby.
“Of course I was nervous, it is my home course. I had a huge home crowd, there were so many people coming to watch. So, it was great playing well in front of them. My last three holes, I birdied them and they were so loud.”
Sjoholm’s round of 68 was the joint lowest on the course and included five birdies and a just solitary dropped shot which came at the tricky par-3 twelfth hole. The final three holes proved crucial with the Swede playing flawless golf tee to green which was duly followed up by three beautifully rolled in putts. Three consecutive birdies saw Sjoholm jump from a share of third position into the outright lead in the home event for the Swedish star.
A shot adrift of Sjoholm was playing partner and fellow Swede Maja Stark. The amateur recorded a final round of 70, two-under-par, to finish as runner-up in the event for the second year in a row. Stark had led with three holes to go but saw her lead overturned by Sjoholm’s stunning finish to the round.
“With three holes to go, I knew she (Maja Stark) was two shots ahead of me. So, I know I needed a good finish. I hit it close on eighteen, just outside the middle, and I knew if I made that one I had at least Maja and then I wasn’t sure about the others. But I had a good feeling about it because I had a good round.”
Earlier in the season, Sjoholm lost a play-off and finished runner-up at Neuchatel and has since secured multiple top-20 finishes in the 2019 season. Her delight was clear to see as she secured a first LET Access Series in front of a buoyant home crowd in her native Sweden. The victory also cements Sjoholm’s position in the top-10 of the all-important Road to La Largue.
In the final group, overnight leader Elia Folch struggled on the final day to slip into eighth place after a +4 round of 76. The Spaniard couldn’t replicate her feel on the greens with five bogeys putting an end to her title challenge at the impressive Vasteras Golf Club.
Also finding it tough in the final eighteen holes were Russian Nina Pegova and England’s Cloe Frankish; the duo had begun the day tied 2nd on –4. Frankish shot a two over 74 to finish in seventh for the tournament. Despite a difficult final day, the tournament will give Frankish further confidence as she continues to threaten at the back end of tournaments after early season struggles on the tour.
Pegova reached the halfway mark two-under-par, enough to lead the tournament through the opening stages in Bjarby. The fourteenth saw the Russian’s title challenge severely dented however as costly errors led to a double bogey, soon followed by another dropped shot at seventeen which ultimately saw Pegova finish in a respectable 3rd place.
Alongside Pegova in a tie for third position were the top three of the LET Access Series’ leading players in the Road to La Largue. Sanna Nuutinen, winner last week at the Amundi Czech Ladies Challenge, was left to rue a poor +3 second round as the opening day leader posted a second –3 score to finish three shots behind Sjoholm at the top of the leaderboard.
England’s Hayley Davis and Spain’s Laura Gomez Ruiz joined the Road to La Largue leader in a share for third after both climbed the leaderboard with impressive final day showings at the Swedish course. Davis now has six top-10 finished on the LET Access Series this season, whilst Gomez Ruiz continues to shine with an impressive fifth top-10 finish in six events.
Next week, the players head to France for the Bossey Ladies Championship at the stunning Association du Golf & Country Club de Bossey. Taking place from 14th - 16th August, the French event provides a further opportunity for the top players to secure vital Road to La Largue points and will also serve as perfect preparation for the crucial €120,000 Tipsport Czech Ladies Open the following week.