Hangs on to one-stroke lead to dethrone Caroline Hedwall

She has a measured approach to golf. Precisely calculated in conserving her energy for the occasion, her mental strength carried her to the pinnacle she had aimed. Pornanong Phatlum regained the title in style with the defending champion Caroline Hedwall admiring her tenacity in adversity.

The Thai hung on to the overnight one-stroke lead and emerged a worthy champion of the $300,000 Hero women’s Indian Open at the DLF Country Club here on Sunday.

Decent gathering

The setting was perfect, pleasant weather, and a decent gathering, just the motivation for Pornanong and Caroline to indulge in an intense duel. The four-stroke difference between them masked the close race that engaged the attention of golf lovers until the final putt.

Tied with Bree Arthur on the first tee, Pornanong kept her composure and did not flinch even as Caroline threatened to spoil her day.

The Thai was one under after the first five holes with a birdie on the third and her lead swelled to five-under after an eagle on the sixth and birdies on the seventh and eighth. It strengthened her chances even as Caroline battled.

After the 15th, Caroline had a birdie and gained from her opponent dropping a stroke. The gap was now just one stroke. On the 17th, Pornanong picked up her game, shot a birdie, took a two-stroke lead to stay in firm control.

This was the turnaround of the day’s golf. The onus was on Caroline now as the race entered the home straight. The Swede had to produce something extraordinary. She came up with a perfect tee-shot to the centre of the fairway, farthest among the three in the leader group. Caroline was aiming for a playoff, but lost momentum when her ambitious shot sank into the water. She made a par, but the penalty was a setback. Pornanong had to face her own challenges on the 18th. A safety approach landed her in the bunker, but she responded with a great effort, coming five feet above the cup.

Birdie it was and with it the title.

The applause confirmed her popularity with the audience. Her earlier titles in 2008 and 2009 had come as part of the Asian tours. This belonged to the European Tour and was a huge leap for the Thai’s growing reputation on the golf circuit.

The scores: Pornanong Phatlum (Tha) 72, 65, 66 (203); Caroline Hedwall (Swe) 76, 62, 69 (207); Nontaya Srisawang (Tha) 71, 70, 68 (209); Trish Johnson (Eng) 72, 72, 69; Stefania Croce (Ita) 69, 73, 71; Carlota Ciganda (Esp) 75, 68, 70 (213); Laura Davies (Eng) 71, 69, 74 (214); Caroline Afonso (Fra) 72, 75, 68, Elizabeth Bennett (Eng) 72, 69, 74, Aditi Ashok (Ind) 69, 74, 72 (215); Veronica Zorzi (Ita) 74, 70, 72; Joanna Klatten (Fra) 76, 70, 70 (216); Margherita Rigon (Ita) 73, 72 ,72; Thidapa Suwannapura (Tha) 72, 72, 73; Bree Arthur (Aus) 70, 67, 80; Gwladys Nocera (Fra) 72, 72, 73; Jaruporn Palakawong Na Ayutthaya (Tha) 70, 75, 72 (217).

Other Indians: Nalini Singh Siwach (Ind) 73, 74, 74 (221); Sharmila Nicollet (Ind) 73, 76, 76 (225); Gurbani Singh (Ind) 76, 73, 76; Vani Kapoor (Ind) 75, 75, 75 (225); Millie Saroha (Ind) 76, 76, 81 (233).

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