Maiden LET win for Greciet

Julie Greciet of France kept her overnight lead and collected her first Ladies European Tour title at the Sberbank Golf Masters in the Czech Republic.

The 27-year-old seventh season professional from Biarriz fired rounds of 66, 64 and 66 at Golf Park Plzn for a 54-hole total of 197, 17-under-par and a two stroke margin of victory over South African Lee-Anne Pace, while Welsh rookie Amy Boulden posted her career best finish of third.

Greciet began the final round in bright sunshine with a one stroke lead but was caught at 13-under by Boulden, who birdied five of her first six holes. Greciet went out in two under and then made her third straight birdie on 11 to regain her one stroke advantage. After Boulden bogeyed 14, Greciet went two clear and then birdied 14 and 15 to go four strokes ahead.

Play was suspended for an hour at 3.25pm local time due to storms and torrential rain, but after play resumed in damp conditions, Pace birdied the last two holes for a final round 65 to move into solo second at 15-under-par.

Greciet controlled her nerves until the 18th green, where she three putted for bogey, but it was enough to secure the win and €37,500 first prize.

She thanked her father Roger for caddying and said that she never expected the victory, especially since she underwent wrist surgery in February to remove a cyst.

“It’s crazy because I didn’t think it was possible to win this year and I’m very, very happy,” said Greciet. “I want to thank my caddie, who is my father and my family and my boyfriend for supporting me this year. I think now I can win another tournament and maybe eight or ten!

“I’m going to drink champagne for a week when I get home.”

Pace was also looking forward to taking a week off after a six week stretch of tournaments during which time she had made two trips to the United States. Despite carding eight birdies in her final round, she made a double bogey at the eighth hole and said: “I played really well this week and made one mistake which cost me a little bit.

“Amy started like a house on fire so I thought, I needed to keep up with her. I made some birdies to catch up but threw those two shots away. I stayed focused and finished second.

“I’m a bit tired so happy to have a week off now in France where I’m going to relax and maybe go for a surf.”

Boulden also signed off with a six-under 65, containing seven birdies and one bogey. She was delighted to finish third, which was one better than her fourth place finish in Germany the previous week.

“Three birdies in the first three holes, I got off to a great start,” said Boulden. “I couldn’t unfortunately make the putts on the last few holes but I’m happy with my performance. I think after the 11th, on the par three, I wasn’t really sure where I was lying because there weren’t any score boards. I knew I must have been there or thereabouts.

“My confidence is getting better each tournament I play. I got to play with Lee-Anne Pace today who is a fantastic player and she gave me some nice words of advice at the end, so that was great. She said she thought I was a great player and she thinks I can make it.”

This was the second French win in four editions of the tournament, after Jade Schaeffer won in 2011, when Greciet was the runner-up.

Fellow Frenchwomen Anne-Lise Caudal and Sophie Giquel-Bettan shared fourth place on 12-under-par with Australian Nikki Garrett. Caudal’s final round of nine-under 62 was the lowest round of the tournament.

Hudson and Chen shared seventh on 10-under, while Australian Nikki Campbell and South African Stacy Lee Bregman, who had a final round 63, tied for ninth on nine-under-par.

Several of the leading players, including Pace, Caudal, Hudson and Bregman, donated five euros for each birdie made during the final round as a contribution towards purchasing a new bell for Pilsen’s cathedral tower.