Boeljon tough as nails at Ladies Masters

24 year old Christel Boeljon, from the Netherlands, is the 2012 Gold Coast RACV Australian Ladies Masters Champion after what had appeared to be a one horse race turned into anything but.

Boeljon birdied her final hole to edge out long time leader, So Yeon Ryu, Italy's Diana Luna and Korean Ha Neul Kim to win her second Ladies European Tour event and reverse an ordinary record at Royal Pines, having missed the cut in her previous three appearances.

"Prior to the tournament I never guessed I would be holding the trophy so to start off the season with a win it is pretty amazing," said the winner.

"I felt good about my chances this morning. If you look at the scoring it has been so low so why not have a low round again. I know it is a long-shot but if I played well you never know.

"I think my caddy has always said the strongest part of my game is my mental game so I felt really good. My swing felt good and my putting was good and I am always pretty level whether I have a good or a bad round I am always kind of the same. This will be a great experience for me as I learn as I go and I am sure I will learn from it again."

Boeljon was a member of the winning Solheim Cup team in 2011 but was reluctant to draw comparisons between that great experience and this. "It is just completely different. Being on a winning Solheim Cup team is something that I will never event forget and I wish I will be playing more of them but winning that and winning individually is just not comparable. I just hope I have more of the same in both."

So what does a victory in this event which contains so many great names on the trophy?

"Every time you walk to the range you see the lines of photos of the girls who have won this event so you want to be up there but every time you play an event anywhere you want to win so to come out on top this week is another dream come true."

When asked what were the keys shots and key holes today, Boeljon responded; "I think my up and downs on the 15th for birdie and the same on 16 for par were crucial. Those two holes kept me going and the birdie at the last was the same but I think the earlier holes kept me going."

With a three shot lead starting the final round there were few prepared to bet against the 21 year old Korean Ryu going on to win the event for the first occasion.

After all, Ryu is a seasoned campaigner on the Korean LPGA Tour having won seven events there and of course the US Women's Open Championship in 2011. That record automatically made her the player to beat when the week started and after establishing significant cushion heading into the final round it appeared on the surface that this was her event to lose.

Her nearest challenger starting the day, Boeljon, is ranked 35 places higher than the Korean on the Rolex World Ranking but when the heat of battle in a final round of a tournament is applied, rankings often don't mean a lot.

By the time the pair reached the 7th hole Ryu's lead was just one over Biljoen and although there was a gap of three shots back to the next closest challenger, Diana Luna and Kim Ha Neul, an air of uncertainty had fallen over the tournament's outcome.

Ryu had looked so good for the opening three days but, just as she had for a brief period in the middle of her third round yesterday, she appeared just a little flat and she had opened the door for those behind.

Ryu though would hit a brilliant approach to the 9th and holed from close range for a birdie and at the turn she was again two ahead of Biljoen.

At the 10th Biljoen closed the gap to just one when she holed from 25 feet to get within one. Ryu missed the green at the 11th and pitched to 14 feet beyond the hole. With Biljoen's tee shot just 15 feet from the hole the possibility of a two shot swing was there for all to see. Ryu though would hole her putt and Biljoen missed and the status quo remained.

The gap would finally close completely when Ryu lipped out for birdie at the 13th and Biljoen holed from 15 feet to join Ryu in the lead.

A hole later, Ryu had the lead again but it was not of her own doing. Biljoen three putted the par three 14th from long range and Ryu led by one again over Biljoen with several others close enough if good enough over the closing few holes.

Italian Diana Luna and Korean Kim Ha Neul were within two of Ryu and the winner appeared as if she would come from that quartet.

Gwladys Nocera was ahead on the golf course and in the process of putting together a stunning final round. She birdied four of her last five holes to get to 18 under and within two of the lead but it appeared, despite its brilliance, her effort would not be quite good enough.

The final pair both birdied the reachable par five 15th and importantly Ryu had not only retained her margin over Biljoen but had given herself a cushion over several others who were closing fast.

Boeljon missed the green at the 16th but pitched to two feet and saved par. Although Ryu found the green she three putted and the pair was tied again. Not only were they tied they were now only one ahead of Luna.

Luna stood over a 15 foot putt for birdie at the 17th and a share of the lead but narrowly missed and as she headed to the 18th tee she was one behind with the reachable par five to come. So too was her playing partner Kim who holed a short putt for birdie herself at the 17th to keep pace with her playing partner.

Ryu and Boeljon both parred the 17th and so four players, Ryu, Boeljon, Luna and Kim, were still alive. Luna found the green with her second at the par five but Kim pulled her second into the left hand greenside trap. Kim hit a superb recovery to 2 feet and the resultant birdie took her to 20 under and into a tie for the lead.

Luna faced a 35 foot putt for eagle which would have given her the lead but, although she missed, the birdie gave her a four way share of the lead with Kim and the remaining pair of the golf course, Ryu and Boeljon.

Ryu found the rough then the bunker at the last while Boeljon who had driven it perfectly finished on the fringe about 50 feet from the hole with her approach. Could either of them secure the birdie for the victory or a playoff?

Ryu's bunker shot was long and some 15 feet beyond the flag. Boeljon putted her approach to four feet and waited while Ryu missed her birdie attempt.

It was now up to Boeljon to either make her four foot birdie putt to move ahead and win the tournament, or miss and join a four way playoff.

Boeljon is clearly made of stern stuff and in went the putt for the victory by one over Ryu, Luna and Kim.

Frenchwoman, Gwladys Nocera, produced one of three rounds of 64 on day four to race up the leader-board and finish 5th while Bo Mee Lee and Felicity Johnson finished in a share of 5th.

Lydia Ko finished as the leading amateur on a day where she learned she had earned a start at this year's US Women's Open.

The ALPG now joins forces with the LPGA of the USA to play the Australian Women's Open at the famed Royal Melbourne with a great deal of anticipation as to how this quality field of women golfers will handle one the great layouts in World golf.

Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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