Ice-cool Swede holds off defending champ
Spoils of victory ... Caroline Hedwall. Photo: Supplied
SWEDEN'S Caroline Hedwall held her nerve on the final two holes to hold off reigning champion Lydia Ko to win the Women's NSW Open at Oatlands Golf Course on Sunday.
The tournament's last two champions headed into the final two holes with the tournament still in the balance.
Both Ko and Hedwall were 12 under as they approached the penultimate hole, but the Korean-born New Zealander bogeyed the 17th.
The 23-year-old Hedwall parred the 17th before shooting a birdie on the final hole to overcome her 15-year-old amateur rival by two shots and claim her second NSW Open title in the past three years.
''It was exciting the last time and it was quite exciting this time too - it was fun, I enjoyed it,'' Hedwall said.
''I thought about the last time I was here two years ago, when Lydia was one-up going to the last one, so I knew I had to hit it close because she can make a birdie on this one and I can make a bogey so I hit a great shot and that set up for a nice birdie putt and put a lot of pressure on her for the last one, so it was a nice way to finish.
''I really enjoy those situations. I love being under pressure, that's what I practice for.''
Australia's 16-year-old sensation Minjee Lee finished third, three shots behind Hedwall.
''She had a really good tournament and she won the Australian Amateur last week,'' Ko said of her fellow teenage golfer.
''She played very very well and I would've loved her to be the leading amateur as well but it doesn't really happen where everyone gets to win. I think she played really well.''
Ko had said she would be happy with a top-five finish.
While she had a golden opportunity to win, disaster struck on the 17th. ''I hit a tree,'' she said.
''I chipped my par chip and was like 'Oh my God, maybe I can win this'. When I was in the bunker I knew I was in the casual water but if I dropped it I knew it would've been plugged, and that happened.''
Hedwall, who will play in next week's Ladies Masters at Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast, admitted to feeling at home.
She has developed quite a liking for the Oatlands course and was well received by the crowds.
''I just think I enjoy it a lot here,'' she said. ''The people here are so nice and it feels like home. A lot of the members come up to me and I feel like I've got to know a lot of people here and they support me and they want me to do well. That always helps you to play better.''
Making the win even sweeter for Hedwall was the fact her twin sister Jacqueline was on the bag, although she didn't need her help.
''She asked me, 'How much help do you want?','' Hedwall said.
''On the greens, she usually helps me reading the greens but I said, 'Well, this time I feel like I've been reading them really well, so I'll let you know when I need help'.
''She's used to caddying for me so she knows how to act and she did a great job. I think we accept our roles on the golf course. I have caddied for her a couple of times and when I caddie for her, I'm the one who's standing back being in the shadow and when I play she's doing the same thing.
''You just have to accept your role and not try to take over.''