Anastasia Kostina earned her place in this week’s Deloitte Ladies Open field thanks to her recent victory at the GolfStream Ladies Open in Ukraine, on the LET Access Series.
Kostina finished four strokes clear of overnight leader Bénédicte Toumpsin from Belgium at Kiev Golf Club last week, securing her last minute entry and on arrival at Golfclub Broekpolder near Rotterdam, she said: “It feels great to be here because I’ve got invites before but this is the first one I’ve won and felt like I earned it. It’s nice because I played well and didn’t just get lucky. It feels like one of the bigger events on the European Tour just from what the players say and spectators are here and the courses are nice, so it feels different.
“I’ve played a couple of events where I’ve been playing on the LET Access and it definitely feels bigger when you come back here so I’m very excited. I will just play as I’ve been playing and everything will be fine. I’d be very happy if I made the cut. I will play my game and not think too much of the result.”
Anastasia has played in seven Ladies European Tour events up until now, twice in Turkey, once in Tenerife and at four European Nations Cups.
She has been gaining confidence by playing in the LET Access Series events so far this season, where she is currently ranked third on the order of merit. The top three players will earn their place to play on the Ladies European Tour next year.
Kostina’s victory drew attention in her home nation, where golf is becoming more popular due to its inclusion in The 2016 Olympic Games and she said: “It was very nice that people did notice and we have a Russian Golf Association and they changed the team of people that work for the Russian Golf Association. They have been very, very productive with what they’ve done over the last year. They’ve been helping me out a lot and organised a team of amateurs and a few pros that they help and we had a great team camp in America and they send us to tournaments. They also help notifying the media and I did get a couple of interviews and went on a couple of shows as well so it was very nice.
“The golf world is so small in Russia everybody knows everybody. It was nice to get calls from almost everybody and congratulations.
“I remember when my sister qualified for the US Women’s Open, it was the biggest deal: she made history as the first Russian to play in the US Women’s Open. It was in America and it didn’t really make any impact. Nobody in Russia knew that she did that and it was a shame because the American media was all over it. Russians didn’t really see it as a big deal. This time it’s different and they’ve really taken notice.”
Golf’s inclusion in the 2016 Olympic Games has meant that the authorities are now supporting the sport and its promising talent. “There are some government resources but mostly sponsors and the Russian Golf Association does a great job in finding them.
“We have very talented young kids growing up but it feels like they are a little shy. It was funny, the next day after I won two guys from Russia shot three under, four under, and they haven’t been. They are really good players but maybe need something to show them that they can do it too and start believing in themselves.”
Kostina has participated in several Russian national team training camps, including one recently in Florida as well as in training organised by the Faldo Series. She hopes that her victory will not only inspire a new generation of young champions, but will ultimately help to grow the Russian game.