She went five years without a victory, but former European number one Gwladys Nocera has finally made a return to the top of the ranking with her recent success at the Allianz Slovak Ladies Open, her 11th Tour victory, recorded in June. As the new leader of the Order of Merit, Gwladys in closing in on the four qualifying spots from points for The Solheim Cup. The Spanish Open, which takes place this week, followed by the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters and RICOH Women’s British Open, could allow her to reach her goal.
Gwladys Nocera, the Allianz Ladies Slovak champion
Five unsuccessful years seems an eternity, especially in the eyes of Gwladys Nocera’s fans. After ten victories in just three seasons, from 2006 to 2008, they expected her to push on, but unfortunately, had to wait from 4th October 2008, when she won the Madrid Ladies Open, until June 23rd 2013 and the last round of the Slovak Open.
"I was not obsessed with the victory in Slovakia, I felt good all week with a clean game and things are linked,” says Gwladys, through translation. “I stayed very patient all week, serene, in the ideal state of mind to win. The last day, I tried to stay focused on my game to win and here I am. I could not let this victory get away as I have missed a few opportunities before. "
Indeed, on many occasions, whether in Europe or on the U.S. circuit, Gwladys had the opportunity to triumph. She has 11 wins on the LET, but also 11 second places! Besides, as many top 10 finishes. Such a record is necessarily the mark of great champions.
The patience and perseverance shown by the French player over the last five years is also the sign of a great champion. The most difficult moment for her was during her time on the LPGA.
"In 2011, playing in the United States was very difficult,” admits Gwladys. “On the human side, I felt very alone and I was very doubtful. I even thought of stopping playing golf. But at the time when the great moments arrived, they were very rewarding. There were also some great things. In five years, same as happens with life, there are things going well and others that going worse. "
The main difficulty for Gwladys came from the fact that she worked hard but failed to convert these efforts into actual results. "It's hard to stay focused when things don’t work well. It's hard for your morale. But deep inside of me, I knew I could win again and that's what made me to not give up and to continue working. This victory in Slovakia is so emotional because I feel that because of it, I had buried two difficult years. "
Throughout this period of scarcity, the current leader of the Order of Merit could count on who has now become her coach, Australian Ian Triggs, after Olivier Léglise with whom she was coached during her first years. "Working with Ian has allowed me to continue to believe in what I was doing and this was not happening at all, to believe in my abilities. He helped me to stand up and I am very grateful. When things are not going well, we realise that it is not necessary to have a lot of people around you. Ian was present in these difficult times. And this has a great value to me. "
The difficult times are now forgotten and it is time to focus on ambitions. The Solheim Cup is of course part of it. "This is a tournament that is in another dimension to me, both from the sport and human sides. I love to live the experience and I would like to participate in every one. "
Gwladys Nocera has played in three editions of The Solheim Cup, in 2005, 2007 and 2009. She will do her best to qualify for the team that will travel to Colorado in August. At the moment, she is seventh, just behind Giulia Sergas.
Gwladys and Becky Brewerton (Solheim Cup 2009)
An encouraging sign recently was her inclusion on the advanced trip to Colorado organised by captain Liselotte Neumann in early July. This suggests that her results are being closely monitored.
"I do not want to have any illusions that I will be there; I'm not there for the moment. I have only one thing to do and that is to play my best to earn automatic selection. That depends on me, not the captain. Liselotte must choose the best team and if she thinks I'm not strong enough, she will choose a better player than me. There are plenty of very good players. I'm not the only one to knock on the door.”
Gwladys has the Spanish Open, ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters and Ricoh Women’s British Open to make an impression.
"The Solheim Cup is an event that makes us better; it boosts our game, our personality and our confidence. We are on fire during the event, enhanced by the event, we play at 200 per cent and nothing else exists. The outside world does not exist anymore. The tournament takes over all, the group absorbs us, " she says.
In three appearances, Gwladys Nocera has a total of five wins, three losses and two draws, which gives her a 60% rate of points earned, a figure of which she is not proud. "I'm obviously very happy to have won a few matches, but winning matches individually and losing the Cup, it's a weird feeling, it does not make much sense. What I would like to do is to win both: matches and then afterwards my team wins. It must be amazing!"
The European and United States Solheim Cup teams will be announced on the Sunday evening following the Ricoh Women’s British Open at St Andrews, on August 4.