Lydia Hall clinched her maiden win in dramatic style as she came from two shots behind to take the inaugural ISPS Handa Ladies British Masters at Buckinghamshire Golf Club in England on Saturday.
The 24-year-old Welshwoman, who held a share of the lead after day one, shot rounds of 66, 71 and 72 for a fantastic seven under par 54-hole total. She sealed a one stroke victory over Beth Allen of the United States in glorious conditions at the stunning parkland course, which was hosting the tournament for the first time.
“I’m over the moon, obviously,” said Hall. “I’ve been waiting to win a tournament for the last five years since I came on tour. I came in close at Q School and it’s been a while. I’ve done well in Dubai the last few years but obviously today was one of my first experiences of final group and all of the pressures that come with that.”
It was a double success for the town of Bridgend, home to Hall and her experienced Tour caddie Lee Griffiths, who was on the bag for the first time.
“It was good to have Lee on the bag who is experienced as he kept me calm and focused throughout the round,” Hall said.
Griffiths, who has worked for the likes of international players such as Melissa Reid and Anja Monke, commented: “We are both from Bridgend. I played all my golf as a kid with Lydia’s coach so we go way back, myself and John Peters. John has always told me, he said, ‘big man, you could do a job for Lydia one day’ and it happened this week.
“It’s the first time I’ve worked for a Welsh girl. The Taffy were in operation today. I’m made up for her because she’s been knocking at the door for some time.”
Hall started out two behind the overnight leader, Ashleigh Simon, her partner in the last pairing, but had moved one clear of the field after three birdies in her first 11 holes, at the second, ninth and 11th.
After striking a beautiful approach shot to around a foot at the par-four 11th, Hall endured a mid-round crisis as she pulled her tee shot left at the par-three 12th and duffed a chip from the rough resulting in a double bogey five.
She then found the left jungle on 13 and had to hack out, dropping another shot there. Allen moved two shots clear with a birdie on 14 after getting up and down from the bunker, but after a 10 minute wait on the tee, Hall felt mentally prepared to start again.
At the par-five 14th, she played a beautiful chip to around a foot from the hole and sank the birdie putt to stay one behind.
It was at the par-four 17th where the drama unravelled. Allen was a stroke clear with two holes to go and played her tee shot safely to the fairway, rather than taking on the water to go for the green. After hitting her second shot into the bunker, she opted to take a penalty drop because the ball was completely imbedded and from there she hit her ball around 20 feet past the flag and three-putted for a triple bogey seven to drop two behind Hall.
After watching the drama from the 17th tee, Hall confidently drove her ball over the lake, 244 yards to the front edge of the green and three putted for a solid par to stay two clear with a hole to play.
At the par-three 18th, Hall’s ball came to rest around 35 feet shot of the hole and her second putt hit the edge of the hole, but luckily a bogey was enough to seal the win and take home the £45,000 first prize.
Hall’s father, Wayne, a former Welsh rugby international and family, were on hand to witness the spectacle.
“Absolutely fantastic, really great,” said Wayne. “The effort and determination that Lydia has shown since she was a kid has been absolutely fantastic. It’s only something she deserves.
“We are really proud of her as a family. We’ve been waiting the last 13 years for her to win, a big win, anyway. For a Welsh girl to come to England and win is even better.”
Allen was obviously left disappointed having come so close to her maiden tour win with rounds of 68, 69 and 73, but she finished alone in second, with six players in a share of third place a stroke back on five under par.
They included English duo Trish Johnson and Henrietta Zuel, South African Stacy Lee Bregman, Australian Rebecca Artis, Swede Mikaela Parmlid and Simon, with Norwegian Caroline Martens and Denmark’s Lisa Holm Sorensen a stroke further back in a share of ninth on four under par.
ISPS Handa Ladies British Masters
Buckinghamshire Golf Club
16-18 August 2012
209 - Lydia Hall (WAL) 66 71 72
210 - Beth Allen (USA) 68 69 73
211 - Rebecca Artis (AUS) 71 70 70, Mikaela Parmlid (SWE) 71 68 72, Ashleigh Simon (ZAF) 69 66 76, Trish Johnson (ENG) 69 72 70, Stacy Lee Bregman (ZAF) 67 74 70, Henrietta Zuel (ENG) 66 75 70
212 - Lisa Holm Sorensen (DNK) 71 71 70, Caroline Martens (NOR) 72 73 67
213 - Anais Maggetti (CHE) 75 71 67, Julie Greciet (FRA) 70 69 74, Lee-Anne Pace (ZAF) 68 73 72
214 - Esther Choe (USA) 72 68 74, Nontaya Srisawang (THA) 70 70 74, Stefanie Michl (AUT) 72 71 71, Diana Luna (ITA) 70 73 71
215 - Frances Bondad (AUS) 72 72 71, Charley Hull (ENG) 70 74 71, Melissa Reid (ENG) 69 76 70, Carlota Ciganda (ESP) 70 76 69, Tandi Cuningham (ZAF) 69 75 71, Stacey Keating (AUS) 67 74 74, Gwladys Nocera (FRA) 69 70 76
216 - Rebecca Codd (IRL) 70 74 72, Hannah Burke (ENG) 71 71 74, Kiran Matharu (ENG) 69 73 74, Clare Queen (SCO) 73 70 73
217 - Sophie Walker (ENG) 73 72 72, Stephanie Na (AUS) 74 71 72, Rebecca Hudson (ENG) 75 71 71, Celine Palomar (FRA) 76 71 70, Sophie Sandolo (ITA) 70 75 72, Carly Booth (SCO) 71 74 72, Kirsty S Taylor (ENG) 70 71 76, Xi Yu Lin (CHN) 74 69 74
218 - Connie Chen (ZAF) 72 71 75, Caroline Afonso (FRA) 70 77 71, Marjet Van Der Graaff (NLD) 71 70 77, Lucie Andre (FRA) 72 72 74, Ursula Wikstrom (FIN) 74 72 72, Holly Aitchison (ENG) 70 77 71, Alison Whitaker (AUS) 73 74 71, Felicity Johnson (ENG) 76 68 74, Lynnette Brooky (NZL) 74 73 71
219 - Tania Elosegui (ESP) 71 72 76, Stefania Croce (ITA) 75 71 73, Elizabeth Bennett (ENG) 72 74 73, Kylie Walker (SCO) 71 73 75
220 - Cassandra Kirkland (FRA) 72 74 74, Joanna Klatten (FRA) 68 76 76
221 - Carin Koch (SWE) 68 78 75, Zuzana Kamasova (SVK) 76 71 74, Caroline Westrup (SWE) 73 74 74
222 - Laura Davies (ENG) 66 77 79, Sahra Hassan (WAL) 74 70 78, Jade Schaeffer (FRA) 74 73 75
223 - Danielle Montgomery (ENG) 73 73 77, Kyra Van Leeuwen (NLD) 71 74 78, Veronica Zorzi (ITA) 74 71 78
225 - Laurette Maritz (ZAF) 72 75 78
227 - Louise Larsson (SWE) 72 73 82