Austria’s Christine Wolf wins Women’s Indian Open

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GURUGRAM: Arms raised, cool Christine could finally celebrate the victory she was longing for. Maybe she wanted to pinch herself to see if she was dreaming. As her Tour mates showered her with water from their aluminum flasks, she knew she wasn’t in a bubble and had won the Hero Women’s Indian Open.

“It’s yet to sink in, yet to sink in,” Wolf repeated, still to emerge from the zone.

The closing 18th hole at the DLF G&CC Gary Player course had haunted her often and she had pondered on the could-have-beens but golf always gives you a second chance if you are patient and willing to learn.

That dreaded par-5 hole had cost her eight shots last year (double bogey-par-quadruple-double). This year it was par-par-birdie and a final rejuvenating par.
Last year, she pulled it short; this time, she overshot into the rear greenside bunker but with the luxury of a three-stroke lead.

“The worst I could do was bogey and it wouldn’t have mattered. There was some adrenaline going, but I was in the bunker thrice today and my wedge play had been really good this week.”

She almost chipped in for a birdie. The deed was done, the wrong reversed, redemption was sweet and with it came her first Ladies European Tour triumph.

What the rest of the chasing pack could or couldn’t do didn’t matter. Focused throughout and completing a bogey-free run for 44 holes in the $500,000 event, the Austrian’s 3-under 69 on pressure day earned her a comfortable, heartwarming win.

It was a happy outing for her caddie Ajay too. He texted her even at Christmas time last year, still reeling from the disappointment, blaming himself. “Well I told him the only thing you could have done differently was hit that shot for me. He is super excited as well.”

Sleep did not come easy overnight for the 30-year-old from the mountain village of Igls in anticipation of the climb. “I woke up a few times. Last night I was talking to my family and my boyfriend. I was nervous but they said a few things to me that just calmed me down. I just wanted to enjoy.”

While challenger Marianne Skarpnord notched up three birdies on the front nine, Christine was always two steps ahead, sinking three of her own. The Norwegian endured a frustrating back nine in the heat of the afternoon with a bogey on the 15th, and missed a small birdie on the 18th.

The European No. 3’s two-under 70 for a total of 8-under was good enough to seal second place. The willowy Meghan MacLaren began the round just one stroke back Wolf but three bogeys till the 11th put paid to her hopes of making a charge. The Englishwoman recovered with two birdies but her par outing could only return a total 7-under for third place.

All were merely sub-plots. The primary theme was Wolf’s quest, and her steady path to the treasured trophy.

Amateur Anika finishes 5th, Tvesa 6th

Durga puja time turned to be auspicious for Anika Verma, who is named after the goddess. For the 15-year-old, the power lies within, having mentally improved on the course after undergoing the process under coach Noah Montgomery in the US.

The amateur did not miss a single regulation till the 15th, where she conceded a double. By then, the Noida girl had already chalked up three birdies, and with another one on the par-3 16th, she returned a card of 70 for an unforseen high-5.

The nerves were there, she admitted, but playing with the friendly duo of Emma Nilsson and Manon De Roey helped her loosen up. “I was enjoying the round so that helped me play well.”

One place behind was Tvesa Malik, who earned the applause with a chip-in from off the green on the 18th. “I missed a lot of putts so that wasn’t a great part of my game. I definitely wasn’t expecting that birdie to happen at all so it was a plesant surprise.”
The 23-year-old from Noida believed she was on the right track, and with two LET events to go, she wants to build on the confidence she gained on her home course. “I’ve learnt a lot this year and my game has progressed. We’ll see how it goes.”
It certainly went well for Tvesa and Anika this week.
Final scores: 277 (13-under)- Christine Wolf (Aut) 73-68-67-69 ($75,000); 280-Marianne Skarpnord (Nor) 68-71-71-70; 281-Meghan MacLaren (Eng) 67-73-69-72; 282-Whitney Hillier (Aus) 67-71-72-72; 285-Anika Verma (Ind-am) 76-72-67-70; 286-Tvesa Malik (Ind) 72-72-71-72 (T-6th)

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