For a second successive year, Ashleigh Simon saw the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters title slip from her grasp when a charging Karrie Webb swooped in to claim her third victory of the season at Buckinghamshire Golf Club on Sunday.
“I can’t be disappointed, I played really well today,” Simon said. “Conditions were very tough, and for Karrie to shoot 65, I take my hat off to her. I don’t think I could have played any better.
“I hit some great shots. The pins were tucked on slopes today that you just couldn’t get to, so I’m very pleased, and now I’m into the British Open and don’t have to qualify.”
— Ashleigh Buhai (@ash_simon) July 28, 2013
The world seven started the final round in Denham three shots off the pace behind Simon, Germany’s Caroline Mason and Klara Spilkova of the Czech Republic, but showed her class with a seven-under-par 65 in blustery conditions to set the clubhouse target at 16-under-par 200.
Then the Australian had to settle in and wait to see if her lead would hold. Although Spilkova fell from contention, Simon and Mason continued to pose a threat.
The pair arrived at the final hole, trailing Webb by just one shot. However, Mason bogeyed the 18th for a closing 70 and Simon’s birdie putt flirted with the hole, but failed to drop, forcing her to settle for a 69 and second on her own.
The 28-year-old Webb could finally relax.
Not only would there be no play-off, but in addition to lifting the coveted trophy, Webb also pocketed the €60,000 winner’s cheque and a 16 carat diamond bracelet, donated by Buckinghamshire Golf Club member Laurence Blunt.
It was a tough break for Simon, though, especially after last year’s disappointment at the same event.
Twelve months ago the 24-year-old Johannesburg golfer held a two-shot lead going into the final round but finished third after a closing with a 76.
Following a joint fifth finish at the Open de España last week, Simon definitely brought her form to Denham. She claimed a share for the lead with an opening nine-under-par 63 and held on to a share of pole with a second round 69. For most part of the final round, the South African looked well on her way to clinching her third Ladies European Tour title.
Although Simon had a late start to her season due to hip surgery, her performances in the last two weeks definitely signals a breakthrough is in the cards. She remained upbeat about the result, selecting to focus on her good form and a runner-up finish that secured her spot in the field for the upcoming Ricoh Women’s British Open, which will be played at the Old Course at St Andrews.
Former SA Womens Open champion Mason, who closed with a 70, was equally pleased with her performance. “It doesn’t feel like I lost it; it feels like Karrie won it and I think seven-under is a great score in the last round,” she said. “I gave my best and did all I could.”
South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace made an admirable comeback after her opening 76, getting herself on the positive side of the cutline with a second round 68. The Spanish Open winner finished with a flourish, carding a final round 67 to tie for 16th on five-under-par 211.
I shot 5 under and ended up finishing T16th. Not bad considering I was 104 after the first day…lol
— Lee-Anne Pace (@LeeAnnePace) July 28, 2013
Compatriot Connie Chen carded a 75 to tie for 53rd and Laurette Maritz posted a 77 to tie for 68th.
(With editing by gsport)