Julia Engström saved her best for last as she made a fantastic birdie two to win her first Ladies European Tour title at the Women’s New South Wales Open at Dubbo Golf Club.
The 18-year-old from Halmstad in southern Sweden began the final round five strokes behind the overnight leader, Manon De Roey, but put up a strong challenge from the outset, eventually drawing level with the leader after the Belgian bogeyed the 17th hole.
Engstrom conjured a piece of magic when she rifled a 5-iron from 176 metres, or 193 yards, to about two feet on the par-3 18th and holed her birdie putt in front of an enormous gallery on a sun-drenched day in Dubbo, rural New South Wales, after De Roey missed the green and took a bogey, handing Engström a two stroke victory on 14-under-par.
The win is the first for the third year professional, who is still studying for two high school exams in Sweden and a sign of things to come from the exceptional talent, who last year was only second in driving distance to Anne Van Dam.
It was also redemption for her loss at the Magical Kenya Ladies Open in December, where she held a seven stroke lead going into the final round, but finished third after a final round of 74.
“It’s been a great week and I’m just thrilled,” said Engström, the LET Rookie of the Year in 2017. “I bogeyed 18 in all three previous rounds and I decided that this time, I was not going to bogey it and I hit a great shot and I didn’t realise how close it was until I heard the reaction from the crowd. It was amazing and a great finish to a great week.”
De Roey had a shaky start when she pushed her opening drive right into the trees, but she quickly steadied the nerves.
However, a birdie-bogey turnaround on the second hole followed by a second Engström birdie on the third, where she made an up and down from a bunker, cut De Roey’s lead to two strokes.
De Roey jumped back into a four shot lead with a 12 foot birdie putt on the fifth hole, just as Engström made her first mistake, after fluffing a shot from a cart path after a monster drive which almost reached the green.
De Roey bogeyed the sixth but then both she and Engström birdied the long ninth and De Roey was back at 15-under with a three-stroke lead through the turn.
Both players birdied the long 12th, but then De Roey dropped four shots in the last six holes for a 75, as Engström conjured a piece of magic on the last for a 68.
De Roey finished in second, with Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth in third on 11-under-par.
“I tried not to focus on what she was doing and I didn’t know what the others were at, so I was just out there trying to play as well as I could and I played very solid at the end and finished up with a birdie,” said Engström.
“I’ve been close a few times and I’ve been waiting for a win, but you never know if it is going to happen. It’s great to finally get that win and be on top of the leader board.”
With her victory in the Women’s New South Wales Open, following on from a tie for seventh in the Australian Ladies Classic Bonville, Engström moved to the top of the Race to Costa Del Sol leader board and will take extra confidence into the next LET event, the Investec South African Women’s Open, which will take place in Cape Town in a fortnight’s time.