Overnight leader Niina Liias clinched the Road to La Largue Final title with a dramatic play-off win over an inspired Magdelena Simmermacher at the final event of the LET Access Series season. The duo ended the day level on -6 with Simmermacher recording a stunning -7 final round to storm into title contention at the French course.
The ninth hole was used to separate the pair, with Liias ultimately securing a maiden professional victory with a birdie on the 365-yard par four thanks to a superb eight iron approach leaving the Finn with a short putt for the win – a first LET Access tournament victory.
Liias began the day on -6, with a one-shot lead over Wales’ Chloe Williams and a three-shot buffer over the chasing pack, whilst Simmermacher was seemingly out of the running six shots adrift of the leader on +1 after the opening 36 holes.
With the final pairing beginning at the tenth, Liias made a solid start with six opening pars on 10-thru-15. Playing partner Williams opened with a birdie to join Liias on -5 but faltered with a bogey at the eleventh followed by a double-bogey on the tricky twelfth that left the Welsh player with a lot to do to move back into contention.
Whilst the final pairing battled to maintain a lead, Simmermacher was making a move a significant move ahead with four birdies on the opening nine holes to reach the midway point in the round on -3 and within reach of the leaders.
Liias found the rough on the sixteenth dropping a shot for the first time in the round but recovered well with birdies at 17 and 18 to move further ahead of Williams and regain a grip on the tournament on -6.
Williams claimed a shot back on the par-5 fourteenth before another birdie at the first offered the 24-year-old a route back into the title mix. The Welsh player could only par the final eight holes but will be pleased after an impressive season with five top-10 finishes secures Williams a place in the upper echelons on the LET Access Series Order of Merit.
Like playing partner Williams, Liias found birdies hard to come by on the back nine with the Finn making pars on every hole down the stretch. Up ahead, the Argentine Simmermacher continued her breath-taking round with a further three birdies on the back nine to secure the clubhouse lead and join Liias on -6 with Liass still on the course.
“At one point I noticed she was -5 and it was going to be close so I just tried to focus on my own game.”
Despite the fireworks ahead from Simmermacher, Liias showed great composure to remain steady and complete the round with a stream of solid two-putt pars to force the play-off on the ninth.
On the crucial deciding hole, Liias found some of her own inspired form with a solid drive followed by a perfect pin-high eight iron over the trees to offer a short putt for the title as the Argentine couldn’t match Liias’ near-faultless play in front of the gripped Mooslargue crowd.
“I just tried to play like I played the last hole again. How I played the second shot was the best that I hit the whole week! It was a great finish – pretty amazing to finish with the win.”
Liias takes home the winner’s share of the 80,000 Euro prize fund at the LET Access Season finale event and will be buoyed after a strong season that has seen the Finn established as a major player on the tour.
England’s Hayley Davis had already secured the Order of Merit title finishing ahead of Finland’s Sanna Nuutinen and Italy’s Lucrezia Colombotto Rozzo for the LET Access Series’ top prize. The top-5 players after the season-long Road to LaLargue progress onto the Ladies European Tour for 2019 whilst the event also saw the fifteen further players earn a spot at the final stage of the LET’s Tour School.