|Anna Nordqvist and Sophie Gustafson retained the European Nations Cup as they lifted Sweden to a three stroke victory over England and Germany at La Sella.|
Anna Nordqvist and Sophie Gustafson retained the European Nations Cup for Sweden with a three stroke victory over England and Germany at La Sella in Spain on Sunday.
The first nation to retain the trophy in the four versions of the event, the Swedes began the final round with a three stroke advantage and finished with a four under par 68 for a total of 21 under par 267, the same score with which they triumphed 12 months earlier.
They began the final round of Valencian Cup, which is a variation on foursomes, with a birdie on the first hole and were out in one under par 35. They bogeyed the seventh and birdied the par-five ninth, when Nordqvist holed a six footer to trigger chants of ‘Sverige, Sverige, Sverige’ from the large Swedish contingent in the gallery.
They were just one stroke ahead of England at that point but took charge with four birdies and just one dropped shot on the back nine.
“It was absolutely fantastic. I couldn’t be happier, standing here,” Nordqvist told reporters. “We had a fun team this week and it was exciting to pull out some great golf out there, so we’re really happy.”
Nordqvist rolled in the winning birdie putt after Gustafson chipped to three feet on the 18th green in front of a bank of waving Swedish flags.
“It means a lot having so many Swedes around here cheering us on. They had this birdie song today so you want to laugh every time they did it. They made a big effort to come here and there were a lot of people by the 18th green so it was very exciting,” Nordqvist said.
English pair Laura Davies and Melissa Reid momentarily tied for the lead after mixing six birdies with one bogey on the front nine for an outward total of 31, but they stalled on the back nine until Davies holed a monster eagle putt from across the green at the last, coming back in 35 for a 66.
Davies said: “I must admit, when we made the turn and Mel made that great putt on nine, I thought, ‘We’re in here,’ I really thought we were going to have a strong chance but we’ve not had one good back nine the whole week. Again, apart from that one good putt on the 18th we struggled on the back nine, so we fizzled out a little bit, but it was good fun, I enjoyed it. We wanted to beat the Welsh more than anything else and I knew they were making a birdie so I had to finish strong and get that one to the hole.”
Reid added: “We just didn’t hole anything really all week. That was the first putt we holed from some distance on the 18th, which was nice, but it’s such a fun week and an eagle to finish was nice.”
By contrast, German pair Anja Monke and Caroline Masson was out in 33 but picked up the pace with four birdies on the back nine to come home in 32.
Masson said: “It was a nice round again, seven under again. I think that format fits us pretty well. We played good and we had a lot of fun out there so it was a nice day. It was a good week for us and I think we are quite happy with that result.”
Monke added: “We will practise for the best ball a little bit for next year and then I think we can give it a go.”
Wales finished one shot back in fourth on a total of 17 under after a final round of 68 by Becky Brewerton and Lydia Hall.
Australian pair Karen Lunn and Katherine Hull, who had set the pace with a 65 on day one, charged up the leader board with a final round 66 to finish five shots off the lead in fifth on a total of 16 under, three shots clear of Virginie Lagoutte-Clement and Karine Icher from France.
The USA pair Christina Kim and Brittany Lincicome ended a shot back in a tie for seventh with Spain’s Azahara Muñoz and Maria Hernández, who dropped back after a final round of 74.
In total, 18 teams contested the tournament on the Jose-Maria Olazábal designed course in Dénia, Alicante. The next Ladies European Tour event is the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open, from May 5-8.