Overnight leader Greta Voelker held her nerve in a tense play-off with Annelie Sjoholm to take the Neuchatel Ladies Championship crown – the German’s first win as a professional golfer.
The pair ended the day level at 3-over, meaning a play-off was required to decide the tournament.
Teeing off back on the signature 18th, Sjoholm marginally overshot the green with her approach to leave a tricky up and down to save par. Voelker hit a fine tee-shot followed by solid short iron to hit the green in two. Facing a tough chip, Sjoholm showed excellent touch to leave herself a short putt of around 15 inches. Voelker, aided by her father who was on the bag for the week, putted out in two from 15 feet, leaving Sjoholm to hole her short putt to force a second play-off hole. The Swede was left frustrated however as the she marginally pushed her attempt, handing Voelker her maiden LETAS series victory at the Swiss course.
The duo, paired for the final round, began the day with Voelker a shot ahead on +2. This was soon overturned as Sjoholm raced out of the blocks, carding consecutive birdies at holes three through five to hit the turn at 2-under for the day. Voelker made a steady start, lying +1 for the round after nine. Down the stretch, the University of Texas student maintained her composure to remain +1 over for the round, +3 overall. Sjoholm found the back nine harder going, dropping shots at 11, 16 and 18, but dug in late on to match the German at three-over for the championship/
Reflecting on the round, the elated Voelker paid tribute to her playing partner:
“It was tough playing with Annelie because I knew she was a great player and she made some crazy putts, and saved some good birdies and pars. So, I was happy that I was able to stick to it, and do my golf, and not think about other people.”
Both players had an opportunity to take the outright victory on the last, as the battling pair showed understandable signs of nerves and veered from the fairway. Sjoholm scrambled from the rough to hole out for a bogey, narrowly missing a long par putt. Voelker found herself plugged in a bunker but was able to recover well before sinking a clutch putt to join her playing partner atop the leaderboard after 54 tough holes at the Swiss course. Looking back Voelker picked out the pressure putt as a key moment in her day:
“The chip was OK, and the putt was obviously amazing! I was under a lot of pressure, so I was happy I was able to make it.”
Elsewhere in the field, Wales’ Chloe Williams had a round to forget, carding a 10-over 81, having begun the day in a share for second. Swiss amateur Elena Moosmann, winner of the VP Bank Ladies Open a fortnight previously, again showed why she is one to watch in the 2019 LETAS series, carding a very respectable final round 73 to finish in a tie for 6th.
The next event sees the players tackle the Jabra Ladies Open – the first of two dual ranking events with the Ladies European Tour. Held on May 23 – 25 at the picturesque Evian Resort Golf Course in France, Voelker and co will be looking to prepare perfectly for Evian over the next week with a record prize fund of €150,000 and valuable points in the season-defining Race to LaLargue up for grabs.