Georgia Hall cards open round 69 to share Aramco Saudi Ladies International lead

JEDDAH: England’s Georgia Hall delivered a measured 71 final round to win the $1 million Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by the Public Investment Fund by five strokes at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on the Jeddah coast .

After being congratulated on the final green by Solheim Cup team member and good friend Emily Kristine Pedersen, the clearly elated Hall showed how much the win – her first on the Ladies European Tour since her only other victory on the Tour, the 2018 Women’s Open – meant.

“It’s fantastic to win in March, so early in the season,” said the world number 25. “I really love this place and I love the golf course. I was fine after 18, then Emily started crying, and it made me cry. I was just really proud of the way I played today.

Hall’s one-under par round started with two birdies in the first three holes to extend her lead overnight to seven strokes, from where she never really looked back.

“That was the plan in my head,” said the 25-year-old. “The front nine is a bit easier, a bit less windy than we had, so I tried to take advantage of that and hit some really good shots on the front nine to get me going, and that kind of calmed me down.”

Despite four bogeys – on five, 10, 15 and 16 – the chasing pack never came close to four shots. Hall – runner-up at the Aramco Saudi Ladies International in 2020 – sealed things up with a birdie three of 17, rolling in a 15-foot putt.

She added: “Even on 16, I thought it was a really good shot. He just didn’t come back. It was so tough. It was windier than yesterday, and 15, 16 can be very tricky, so I tried some damage limitation there. Obviously very happy with the birdie of 17.

“Leading all week is very special. I think the first round was really very important for me. I played this round unbelievably. It really set me up for the rest of the week. Sometimes it’s not always easy with a five-shot lead in the final day, it’s a bit more pressure on you, but I was really happy with the way I did today.

Joint second place went to former Czech Republic international and LET rookie Kristyna Napoleaova, and Sweden’s Johanna Gustavsson.

It was a fairy tale for Napoleaova, 25, who was competing in only her second event as a LET professional and had shared the second day lead with Hall.

“To be honest, it’s kind of like a dream,” she said. “I didn’t even expect to participate in the event. Golf Saudi provided me with an invitation, which was amazing. What happened this week sounds like a fairy tale. It’s been an absolutely amazing week. I’m so grateful to have been here and can’t wait to come back.”

Napoleaova picks up $75,000, which is $71,300 more than her first LET event.

She said: “To be fair, I had no idea what the prize money was. I’m glad I didn’t watch because I would have been a little nervous on the last hole, which I was anyway, so better not to know!

The best round of the day came from American golf star Kelly Whaley, who set a new Ladies European Tour record with an incredible eight birdies in a row to finish sixth.

The 24-year-old went -8 from the fourth hole to the 11, en route to equaling the Royal Greens course record 63.

It was the first time in history that a player had won more than seven consecutive birdies in a regular season LET event.

Whaley – who turned pro in 2019 and was competing in her first-ever event outside the US – said: “It’s the best run I’ve ever had in a tournament. My goal today was just to enjoy it and have fun, being my first international professional event. I’ve never had eight birdies in a row. It is something memorable for everyone!

“Once I did about four or five, I said, ‘Okay, you’re in now – you can’t stop!’ So, I kept giving myself opportunities and it was a lot of fun.

“I think in those situations the pressure can get to you, and it gets almost intimidating, but I really tackled today trying to enjoy every shot and find something about every hole that I loved. , be it the view or just something else. It was just a really memorable day.

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