Hall crowned first World Sand Greens champion at Walcha

Wales’ Lydia Hall has been crowned the first Women’s World Sand Greens champion after an all-world up-and-down on the final hole at Walcha Golf Club in New South Wales.

Five strokes from the lead entering the final round of the Women’s World Sand Greens Championship Powered by Origin Energy, Hall dropped shots at the first and fourth holes before roaring up the leaderboard with four straight birdies from the fifth hole.

Given that all four players in the lead group made bogey on their opening hole, the leaderboard soon tightened up.

At one point, 13 players were within two strokes of the lead but as they made the turn, it became clear that a shootout was developing between Hall and Thai teenager Cholcheva Wongras in the third-to-last group.

Wongras was the outright leader when she made her fourth straight birdie at the par-3 ninth before Hall drew level at 2-under with a birdie of her own at the par-4 13th.

Hall landed a crucial blow when she displayed impeccable touch to make birdie at the par-5 15th to move to 3-under, her lead stretching to two when Wongras dropped a shot at the par-3 16th.

A wicked lip-out at 17 halved Hall’s advantage to just one playing the tough par-3 18th, where she found herself almost in the car park after her tee shot skipped through after landing on the front of the green.

She took free relief from the path and then delivered the perfect combination of execution and imagination to chip down to just three feet.

One final smooth cleared the path to complete a round of 3-under 68 for a 2-under total and one-shot win.
“I was further back yesterday. I was by the van, so I was about another 15, 20 yards back,” Hall said of her tricky predicament on the final hole.

“Obviously knew I needed to get up and down to keep in front but yeah, it’s been a very different week, to say the least.”

Winner of the Women’s NSW Open Regional Qualifier at Dubbo last month, Hall said that her stint through regional New South Wales has helped to unlock her passion for the game, passion she hopes to carry into the Ladies European Tour season starting in South Africa next week.

“The whole reason I’m here doing this season was to get back to my roots and find the love of the game again, because I lost it last year,” added the 2012 Ladies British Masters champion.

“There was one point that I thought, I just can’t do this anymore, because I was working so hard but not getting the results that I wanted. And so I took it back to basics.

“Carrying my bag and just hitting golf shots, playing different shots and this is why we’re here playing this.
“Trying to rediscover a different element of golf and these past four months being here has really been joyful, really enjoyed it.”

It was a unique experience too for runner-up Cholcheva Wongras, the 17-year-old heading back to Thailand with a wealth of experience now in her carry-on.

“This tournament gave me huge lessons,” Wongras said.

“It’s just golf, so accept everything that’s happened. You can’t expect anything on that kind of greens but do your best.

“You can’t do anything but accept everything that’s happened. That’s a big, huge learning that I have.”

Danni Vasquez Boyd (68) and Jess Whitting (71) shared top Aussie honours, both with opportunities late to join Hall at the top of the leaderboard.

They shared third with New Zealand’s Wenyung Keh (73) with Jeongmin Cho (73) outright sixth at 1-over par.

Overnight leader Elmay Viking (77) fell to a share of seventh, tied with Amy Walsh (74) and Munchin Keh (71) at 2-over par.

Final Scores (Click Link HERE)

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