Ladies European Tour
Sep 6th, 2021
Maja Stark wins the Creekhouse Ladies Open
Swede holds her nerve for a four-shot victory
Photography: Mark Runnacles/LET
The 21-year-old, who only turned professional last month, continued to play some excellent shots throughout the day in Åhus and carded a final round score of 71 (-1) to finish with an overall score of nine-under-par.
It was a second professional win in the space of a fortnight for the Swedish sensation after taking the spoils in the PGA Championship By Trelleborgs Kommun on the LET Access Series at the start of last week. Stark showcased just why she is considered to be one of the hottest prospects around with another sensational performance in Southern Sweden.
“It feels amazing, it’s always terrifying leading a competition, and I’m sure it will be even more terrifying as time goes on but winning has given me confidence to know that I can do it and pull it together for a whole round and put on some good golf even though I can feel my heart beating on every single shot,” said Stark.
With a three-shot advantage to her name heading into the last 18 holes all eyes were on Stark at the start of the day, and she didn’t let that daunt her as she secured birdies on the first and third either side of a dropped shot on the second to extend her lead in the early stages.
A birdie and bogey on the 7th and 9th respectively saw her complete the front nine in steady fashion, before turning on the style as she headed towards home to pick up another shot on the 15th, with the confidence oozing through her veins as she worked her way towards the clubhouse.
And even a dropped shot on the 17th couldn’t break her stride, as she sauntered down the final hole of the weekend with consummate ease to make par and set off the celebrations.
“I was a bit nervous after my bogey on 17, nervous that I was going to mess up and mess up big time, but I hit solid shots on the last hole so I was more calm on the 18th than I had been all day.
“It’s so great to win and become a member of the LET, I only had one more competition planned this year because I couldn’t get into anything else, so it means so much to me.”
It was a Swedish one-two at Kristianstad Golf Club, with Stark’s compatriot Linn Grant claiming a second successive second-placed finish after a final round score of 71 (-1) that saw her finish on five-under overall.
Grant, like Stark, only turned professional a matter of weeks ago, but has taken like a duck to water to life on Tour, with last week’s top two showing in the Didriksons Skafto Open backed up with another impressive performance this time around.
Birdies on the 11th, 12th and 15th set the 2017 Ping Junior Solheim Cup player on her way in Sunday’s action, meaning dropped shots on 16th and 18th were irrelevant as she held on to second spot. Despite finishing runner-up, Grant was delighted for her compatriot to take the victory after four tough days on course.
"I'm very happy for Maja, if I wasn't going to win then I'm glad it was Maja who did," Grant began.
"My game was solid, it's a new level with turning pro but I feel like it's a good start. Now I've got to continue the way I'm going, I feel like I haven't played my fullest but there's still plenty of years left to play so I'm ready for that."
Race to Costa del Sol leader Atthaya Thitikul continued her impressive run of form this year to claim a tenth top-ten finish of the season, and the fourth time she has finished in the top three in an event in 2021.
After a blistering start to the tournament on Thursday which saw her shoot 68 (-4), the Thai talent was unable to recreate that sort of form in the following three rounds, as she finished the weekend three-under-par with a final round score of 73 (+1).
Nevertheless, the 18-year-old was keen to take the positives from another strong showing as she extended her lead at the top of the standings and learn from her mistakes going forward.
“The last three rounds I struggled with my tee shots and I felt less confident with my irons. Confidence is the key to golf and if you don’t have it then you can’t play as well as you want,” Thitikul said.
“I’m just glad that I can handle it quite well, it’s not a great result but I know I did my best every single shot.”
Sitting a shot behind Thitikul was the trio of Carmen Alonso, Christine Wolf and Lydia Hall, who shared fourth spot on two-under, with all three players claiming their highest finish of the season.
Austria’s Wolf fired in a superb round of 70 (-2) to climb the rankings on the final day, while a score of 73 (+1) for Hall and Alonso was enough to see them finish in the top five.
Home favourite Pernilla Lindberg made it back-to-back top ten finishes in her homeland after ending the tournament in standalone seventh on one-under, while Alana Uriell of America had to settle for level-par and an eighth-placed result.
Felicity Johnson claimed a second top ten finish of the season a further shot back, while Johanna Gustavsson fired the round of the day 67 to propel herself into the top ten on two-over, where she has Agathe Sauzon for company.
Race to Costa del Sol contenders Steph Kyriacou and Sanna Nuutinen lost ground at the top of the leaderboard this week, with the Australian finishing in a tie for 14th after finish four-over-par, while a run of seven dropped shots in five holes on the back nine saw Sanna Nuutinen drop in to a tie for eighteenth on five-over.