|Manon de Roey ended a three-year quest for her first tournament victory as a professional by winning the WPGA International Challenge at Stoke by Nayland Hotel Golf & Spa.|
Manon de Roey ended a three-year quest for her first tournament victory as a professional by winning the WPGA International Challenge at Stoke by Nayland Hotel Golf & Spa.
But in doing so, the 26-year-old from Belgium had to survive a searching examination from Lydia Hall, the defending champion.
All of which resulted in the two engaging in an enthralling duel in the Suffolk sunshine.
Hall had won the tournament at the same venue 12 months beforehand by prevailing in a sudden death play-off against Ines Lescudier of France.
So there was an unmistakeable sense of déjà vu after Hall birdied the par-three 18th on the Gainsborough course to tie the 54-hole scores at 11-under.
Back up the 18th they went but this time there was to be no happy ending for the 30-year-old from Wales.
The confidence she displayed in sinking the putt that forced the play-off seemed to evaporate as she missed a much shorter one for par.
De Roey, by contrast, held her nerve to hole from a metre and claim the €5,600 first prize and, more importantly, that hitherto elusive first tournament triumph.
She had admitted before going into the final round a shot clear of Hall and two ahead of England’s Felicity Johnson that there had been a couple of occasions when she was found wanting at the business end of a tournament.
Clearly, however, those memories failed to haunt her this time as Hall proved a dogged and relentless opponent, especially on the back nine.
The two-shot advantage De Roey had at the turn became three as Hall bogeyed the par three 11th but her response of three birdies on the bounce restored parity.
Two of the birdies were inches away from becoming potential tournament changing eagles but De Roey remained unfazed in the face of her pursuer’s birdie blitz.
Outwardly that is. Inwardly, however, she admitted the nerves began to jangle.
“I was a little nervous over the last two holes,” she said. “I was actually less nervous on the play-off hole than I had been on the last actual holes.
“I just had to play my own game – I was bogey-free which was good.
“I’ve been playing well for the past couple of weeks so it was just a matter of it coming all together and this week it did.
“Lydia made me work for it, which is how it should be. It was a great match.”
Leading scores: M De Roey (Belgium) 205 (-11), L Hall (Wales) 205 (-11); F Johnson (England) 208 (-8); E Nilsson (Sweden) 210 (-6)