Christel Boeljon captured her second straight Turkish Airlines Ladies Open title on Sunday with a final round of level par 73 at National Golf Club in Belek, Antalya.
The 24-year-old Dutchwoman dominated the tournament, having either led outright or held a share of the lead after each of the four rounds, ending with a winning score of seven under par 285, which matched the tournament record set by Lotta Wahlin in 2008.
Finland’s Ursula Wikstrom finished three strokes back in outright second on four under par, while Carlota Ciganda of Spain and Sweden’s Carin Koch tied for third at two under par.
Around 20 members of the National Golf Club Junior Team ran onto the 18th green to spray Christel in champagne
Boeljon started the final round with a two stroke lead but dropped a shot at the first hole and was caught by Ciganda after the Spaniard made two birdies in the first three holes. However, Ciganda fell away and a run of three birdies in four holes gave Boeljon an outward nine of two under and a three stroke cushion over Wikstrom.
Her lead was cut to a stroke after she bogeyed the 10th and the Finn birdied the 11th but Boeljon had established a four stroke lead after Wikstrom double bogeyed the 15th hole.
Boeljon still had a dream four stroke lead coming down the par-four last, but having hit a great drive that split the fairway, she pulled her second shot from 100 metres from the pin into the water left of the green and had to take a drop.
Her first putt, which was uphill, raced around two metres past the hole, but she made the returning putt for a bogey five which was enough to seal her fourth Ladies European Tour win.
“It means a lot. To be able to defend is quite an honour and quite special so I’m very pleased to be here,” said Boeljon, whose first win on tour came in a team event as a rookie in 2009.
“I stayed calm and hit some really good shots in. I was able to go low, two under at one point and I just kept that going. The back nine was a little so, so, but overall it was enough and I played strong throughout the four days.”
She denied feeling nervous, despite her final-hole error, saying: “I just hit a bad shot which was a shame, but it’s what happened. I knew I had a big lead so it didn’t really matter.
“I thought the first putt might move because it was just a bit on the slope and I hit it too hard but the last putt was good.”
The tight, tree-lined National Golf Club is one of the toughest courses on the Ladies European Tour schedule where strong course management is essential.
Boeljon said: “You have to play well, hit good shots and if your confidence goes, the fairways just get smaller and smaller so you’ve got to keep that going. It’s tough because you need to put the ball in the right place and you need to putt well. Your short game needs to be good so it’s all around a good golf course.”
Another impressive performance came from Wikstrom, who closed with a 74.
“There was a time when we started to get pretty close but then I had some trouble afterwards. I held in there so I’m pleased,” Wikstrom said. “I was a little bit nervous but I was trying to enjoy myself and smile the whole day and I managed to do that.”
Ciganda, who fired a course record seven under par 66 in the third round, started well and fought back from a run of five bogeys in the middle of her round with birdies at the 12th and 14th to sign for a level par 73.
“I’m happy. I think third place is good and I wanted to finish under par because I started well with two birdies but then I had four bad holes. I had two birdies in the last seven holes so I’m happy with my tournament.
“I think I played alright. My best part was my chipping and putting, so that helps a lot. I tried to hit it straight but some shots went right, left. This course is very hard if you don’t hit the fairways. Overall I’m happy with my game but I need to keep improving,” Ciganda said.
Koch mixed two bogeys on the front nine with two birdies on the back and finished with a 73.
She said: “I didn’t play well at the beginning of the week so I was just trying really to get my game together and get some confidence. I feel like I gained a lot of confidence and my short game and my putting were good all week so that really helps.”
English amateur Charley Hull, aged 16, finished fifth in her first Ladies European Tour event.
She ended on one under after steady rounds of 73, 72, 73 and 73 and said: “I’m really happy I came fifth on my own and I didn’t shoot over par at all, all week. I didn’t expect anything: I just go out there and play golf and have fun, which I did.”
She will now head home to Northamptonshire to practise for next month’s Curtis Cup at Nairn Golf Club, while the next Ladies European Tour event is the UniCredit Ladies German Open presented by Audi from May 24-27. The Deloitte Ladies Open in Holland will take place a week later, where Boeljon will receive a warm welcome at her home event.