Daisy Nielsen of Denmark and France’s Melodie Bourdy produced a thrilling and tense end to the season’s LET Access Series at Stoke by Nayland Hotel Golf & Spa.
Both players ended the 54-hole WPGA International Challenge level on seven-under-par after completing the final round in two-under.
Cue a sudden-death play-off at the par three 18th in front of a packed gallery.
Both players negotiated it in par at the first attempt and Bourdy, having left her tee shot short of the green and subsequent chip eight feet shy of the hole, followed suit at the second time of asking.
All of which left Nielsen to hold her nerve and hole an eight foot putt for a tournament-winning birdie and claim the €4,871 winner’s cheque.
That represents the biggest prize of her short career but an even bigger one is the coveted Tour card courtesy of finishing third in the Order of Merit.
“It means so much to me,” she said. “It’s so nice to have got my card. It’s been amazing to have played on this tour this year. There have been 16 tournaments and they’ve been a great preparation for the Ladies European Tour.”
As well as playing like champion, the 21-year-old daughter of former World speedway champion, Hans, displayed the sportsmanship of one following an incident on the par four 10th hole on the Gainsborough course at the Suffolk resort.
Thinking she may have moved the ball when she lined up a putt but not wholly sure, she still penalised herself a stroke even though her two playing partners had seen nothing untoward.
Recalling the incident she said:
“I addressed my putter, looked at the hole and then looked at the ball again. It looked as though it had moved but I didn’t see it move. I wasn’t sure but it seemed to have moved because it wasn’t in the same place. Either that or my putter had moved.
"We ended up by calling the referee and she said I had decide whether to penalize myself or not. I didn’t know whether it had moved so I thought it was best to give myself a penalty. I would have felt bad if I hadn’t.”
Prior to the hole, Nielsen was level with Bourdy on seven-under while the two others who began the day on five-under, England’s Charlotte Ellis and Tonje Daffinrud of Norway, were beginning to slip out of contention.
And having missed the chance to take an outright lead at the ninth by squandering a birdie opportunity, the incident could have derailed the Dane’s challenge.
She succeeded, however, in putting the setback behind her and repaired the damage caused by the self-inflicted dropped shot with a birdie at the par five 16th to finish level with Bourdy.
Nielsen will be joined on the European Ladies Tour by the others who occupied the top five places in the Order of Merit.
Three of them are Swedes – Order of Merit winner Emma Westin, Lina Boqvist, who finished fourth at Stoke by Nayland, and Isabella Ramsay.
Completing the quintet is Daffinrud, who moved up from seventh to fifth thanks to a final round of level par that earned her third place in the tournament.
Meanwhile, Ellis, who finished on one-under for the tournament, shared the distinction of the best placed home player with English compatriot Sarah Attwood; while France’s Anni Rossi produced the best round of the day – four-under to finish 15th.
Image: Adrian Milledge