KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY: Danish star Emily Kristine Pedersen won a playoff against England’s Georgia Hall on Sunday in a fitting climax to the first-ever women’s golf tournament staged in Saudi Arabia.
Pedersen claimed the inaugural Aramco Saudi Ladies International at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in style with a birdie on the extra hole after Hall dumped her second shot into the water that led to a bogey on the par-5 No. 18.
“It’s stressful being in playoff because it’s head to head but gives you opportunity to go for everything. And I think I did and I’m really happy,” a beaming Pedersen told the media after the awards ceremony for the tournament, presented by Public Investment Fund (PIF).
The event will segue to the Saudi Ladies Teams International on Tuesday, completing a historic week for women’s golf in the Kingdom.
Hall, who shot a course record 7-under 65 in the first round — matched by Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall the following day — started the fourth round of the 72-hole Ladies European Tour event in the last group with overnight co-leaders Lydia Hall of Wales and Pedersen.
Georgia hit the turn with the lead after back-to-back birdies from No. 6. She bogeyed the 12th hole, but regained her edge with another birdie on the next, setting the stage for a virtual match play the rest of the way with Pedersen, as her Welsh namesake unraveled with a triple-bogey seven and bogey on holes 14 and 15 for a 76.
Pedersen and Georgia Hall both had chances of outright victory in regulation play, but blew it. Under pressure, Pedersen flubbed a 12-footer for eagle and Hall a 6-footer for birdie. They finished 72 holes tied on 10-under 278, with final round cards of 71 for Hall and 72 for Pedersen.
Pedersen came back with greater resolve in the playoff.
“After the eagle miss, my caddy and I decided to go for the win. It was a little right (second shot), a difficult chip and I pulled it off,” said Pedersen.
After hitting a perfectly executed chip shot from 20 yards, Pedersen was left with a tap-in birdie putt and raised her arms in triumph after sinking the winning three-footer.
“It’s really great to come here, and people have been so helpful and nice. It has been a great experience,” she added.
Hedwall closed with a 68 for 8-under total of 280 in third place. Dutchwoman Anne Van Dam was tied fourth with Stephanie Kyriacou of Austria on 7-under, followed by a four-way logjam at 6-under that included Hall, Spain’s L. Sobron Galmes and Charley Hull of England.
After a day’s rest on Monday, the players will return to the premier championship golf course at King Abdullah Economic City for the $500,000 Saudi Ladies Team International (Nov. 17-19), a first-of-its-kind tournament where 36 team captains recruit their players using a live NFL-style draft system, before competing for a share of $500,000 prize money.