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Netherlands win Euro Nations Cup
ALICANTE, SPAIN – Christel Boeljon and Marjet Van der Graaff of the Netherlands came from two shots behind for a four stroke victory at the Comunitat Valenciana European Nations Cup.
The pair fired a superb six-under 66 to overtake third round leaders Gwladys Nocera and Anne-Lise Caudal of France at La Sella Resort, in Denia, Alicante, Spain.
France shared second place with the Italian and Australian teams on 14-under-par.
Defending champions England, represented by Laura Davies and Lisa Hall, shot 66 in Sunday’s Valencian Cup format and finished a shot back in fifth. Meanwhile the home nation of Spain finished with a 68, one behind.
The Netherlands started two shots behind France but notched birdies on the third and fifth holes to grab a tie for the lead.
After France dropped its second straight shot at the tough par-four eighth, Van der Graaff sank an excellent five foot birdie putt for only the second birdie in two days on the 368-yard hole and the Netherlands moved three shots ahead. However their lead narrowed to a stroke after a two shot swing at the 12th. France then bogeyed the 13th before the Netherlands birdied the last two holes.
The combination of Van der Graaff’s powerful hitting and Boeljon’s accuracy around the greens served to produce one of the best performances in the sporting history of the Netherlands.
Boeljon, 21, was just 11 months old when the Dutch football team won the European Championship in 1988. She attended qualifying school in January and was playing in only her third event as a professional, yet with the victory, she confirmed her rising status as one of Europe’s best female golf stars.
After studying at Purdue University in the United States, she made a seamless transition from the amateur ranks by finishing equal 13th at the Women’s Australian Open in February.
“It’s a great start I don’t think I could have asked for a better one so I’m very happy,” Boeljon said.“My putter was working quite well this week so I made a lot of good birdies and good pars. I don’t know what the key was. We both played solid and well so we worked well as a team.”
Van der Graaff, 26, is just starting her second year on the Ladies European Tour after finishing 83rd on the money list in 2008. She said:
“I think no-one thought that we had a chance. It’s what you play for but it’s nice to believe that you really can do it. We played great golf every day.”
The Italian pair of Veronica Zorzi and Giulia Sergas scored the round of the week with a 62, which included eight birdies and an eagle.
“We played brilliant golf, really, from tee to green and we alternated really well,” said Sergas. Zorzi added: “The eagle on nine was great.
She made the second shot to one metre and at the 18th we made a birdie, so it was a good finish.”
Nocera summed up the French team’s final round of 74: “We started off playing really well but didn’t make a putt. I think that’s the only difference. We had two birdies and we had so many opportunities.”
First round leaders Nikki Garrett and Joanne Mills from Australia combined for a final round of 71 and were pleased with the performance.
“We didn’t score as well playing the Valencian Cup format but we played pretty solid all week and it was just a couple of putts on the second and fourth day cost us a little bit,” said Garrett.
Mills added: “We played this format much better today than we did on Friday. We got off to a good start with birdies on four and five.
Unfortunately both of us bogeyed the next two holes and we didn’t hole as many putts around the back nine as we would have liked.”
Ursula Wikstrom of Finland scored her second hole-in-one of the week at the 164-yard 14th hole with a four-iron, which was her first in professional tournament play. She also aced the fourth hole whilst playing in the Pro Am.
Halfway leaders Beth Daniel and Meg Mallon of the United States finished with a 10-under total and claimed outright seventh position, while Sweden, Wales, Ireland and Denmark rounded out the top ten.
Final scores from the Comunitat Valenciana European Nations Golf Cup at the 6253-yard/5717 metre, par-72, La Sella Golf Resort:
270 - The Netherlands 66 70 66 68
274 - Italy 69 70 73 62, Australia 65 73 65 71, France 67 68 65 74
275 - England 67 74 68 66
276 - Spain 73 67 68 68
278 - USA 66 67 73 72
279 - Sweden 71 68 69 71
281 - Wales 70 72 69 70
282 - Denmark 68 72 73 69, Ireland 72 70 69 71
286 - Finland 75 69 69 73
288 - Scotland 69 76 72 71
289 - Germany 70 75 73 71, Norway 70 76 72 71, Switzerland 71 70 72 76
291 - Russia 72 72 73 74
295 - Belgium 73 76 73 73
298 - Slovakia 72 75 73 78
316 - Austria 70 100 71 75