Big Finish in Dubai for Yin and Hall as LET Season Concludes
A TROUBLED year on the Ladies European Tour came to a thrilling climax with 19-year-old American Angel Yin winning the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic and Georgia Hall winning the Order of Merit and Player of the Year awards.
It has largely been a season to forget, with a reduced tournament schedule and the tour’s chief executive walking away from his job, but Yin wasn’t concerned with any of that as she emerged triumphant after a three-way playoff at Emirates Golf Club.
Yin, from Los Angeles, saved par after finding the water on the closing hole in a bogey-free final round of 67 to match the target of a 15-under-par set by South Korea’s In-Kyung Kim and Celine Herbin of France.
Yin, who averages nearly 277 yards off the tee, and Kim birdied the first extra hole (the 18th) to stay in the hunt while Herbin was eliminated after putting her third shot in the water. A tap-in birdie on the second playoff hole, a par four measuring 254 yards, saw Yin secure the title when the South Korean missed her own birdie attempt.
“I feel amazing. Actually, it’s my first major tour professional win, so this is big for me,” said Yin. “It’s been a long week and I’m happy to be here in Dubai for the second time. I had a great time last year and I’m happy to be here again,” said Yin, who tied for 10th in the event in 2017.
“Two days ago, I went to the aquarium in the Dubai Mall and today I’m going to see penguins with my friends — yes! I loved the course and it was in great shape,” said Yin, who became the second American after Lexi Thompson to win the season-ending Ladies European Tour event.
Herbin, who shot a final round of 64, wasn’t too disappointed at being eliminated with a double-bogey on the 18th hole after finding the water with her third shot. She said: “I mean, it was really a bonus for me to in this play-off today. It was an awesome round for me, my personal best, minus eight and I had nine birdies. I enjoyed it a lot today. I played very well, really, but so I spent a little bit too much time without playing. I finished earlier and I lost a little bit of rhythm, I would say. I could feel it on the drive and even the 7-iron on the lay-up.
“The sand wedge went out of the clubface, but today is a very nice day for me. It’s nice to finish well in this tournament, one of the biggest of the LET and I’m very happy.”
Kim, the 2009 champion, felt that she had given it her best. She said: “You know, just getting myself in contention on the back nine, that was my goal. I was able to get into the playoff. I think that was the best scenario that I could ever have ask for before teeing off. I’m sure that a lot of girls played well today, and we all have a similar story. The course was set up for more aggressive play, but I think I took good advantage of it.”
Overnight leader Anne Van Dam fired a final round of 71 and ended two strokes back in fourth place, with Aditi Ashok, Charley Hull and Pernilla Lindberg tied for fifth.
England’s Hall had reason to celebrate after collecting both the Ladies European Tour’s Order of Merit and Players’ Player of the Year Awards at an awards dinner after the tournament finished. The 21-year-old from Dorset wrapped up the Order of Merit with earnings of €368,934.60 from 10 tournaments and was presented with a diamond encrusted Omega watch and a cheque for €20,000.
Hall recorded seven top-10s on the LET in 2017, two of them in majors. Her season started with a tie for third in the World Ladies Championship in China and she then tied for fourth in the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco. She posted a tie for ninth in the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open and shared third place in the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns Golf Links, marking her out as one of Europe’s rising stars.
Her debut as a rookie in The Solheim Cup, where she played in all five matches, confirmed her status as one of the world’s best women golfers.
She then tied for 10th place in the year’s fifth major, the Evian Championship in France, before posting a fourth-place finish in the Andalucia Costa del Sol Open de Espana Femenino and second in the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s been a long year and I’m so happy to be able to win this,” she said "I’ve played great this year and had some really good results. It was one of my targets at the start of this year and I’m over the moon. The Solheim Cup was huge for me and to finish third at the British Open was big. Second in Abu Dhabi, I love it there, so it was nice to go back and this is one of the biggest moments in my career, winning the Order of Merit.”
EUROPEAN SENIOR TOUR
Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant won his first European Senior Tour title in superb fashion at the MCB Tour Championship when he carded a final round of 62, 10 under par, for a 23 under par total in the 54-hole tournament.
The 50 year old, in his first year on the Senior Tour, started the day in a share of the lead with Australia’s Peter Fowler, but raced clear after carding six birdies on the front nine.
He then made consecutive birdies on the 13th and 14th and picked up another at the 17th. The two-time Asian Tour Number One then eagled the last to finish eight strokes ahead of Ireland’s Mark McNulty.
“I’m so happy to win,” said Wiratchant. “To win on my first year in the Senior Tour is fantastic, there are so many good players here. “My tee shots were great all week that really helped me win here. I felt really comfortable on this golf course, it reminded me of playing in Thailand.”
Wiratchant’s 23-under-par winning total is the lowest ever at the MCB Tour Championship, and his final round 62 is also the lowest carded at this event, matched by Sweden’s Jarmo Sandelin earlier in the round. The Thai carded an amazing 24 birdies and an eagle during his rounds of 66-65-62.
McNulty carded a final round of 67, five under par, to take solo second place, his second runner-up finish on the Senior Tour this season. Fowler and Miguel Angel Martín shared third place on 11 under par, one stroke ahead of Clark Dennis and Esteban Toledo in fifth place.
Dennis was awarded the John Jacobs Trophy for finishing at the top of the Senior Tour Order of Merit. The American recorded his seventh top five finish in just 14 starts during his rookie year on the Senior Tour – he also finished the season as rookie of the year.
“This year couldn’t have ended any better,” said Dennis. “To be the first American to win the John Jacobs Trophy feels fantastic. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Mauritius is an incredible place, anybody who has an opportunity to come here really should. This is a wonderful resort and I feel so fortunate to have had the chance to play this event.”
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