Article courtesy of Ladies European Tour
Alicante, Spain, Sunday 25th April 2010 - Anna Nordqvist and Sophie Gustafson of Sweden led their country to its first ever win in golf's Comunitat Valenciana European Nations Cup after a dramatic final round battle in Spain on Sunday.
Nordqvist showed her class when she rolled in a six foot eagle putt on the 448-yard par-five 18th hole in regulation for a 68 to tie with Australia at 21-under-par after four rounds at La Sella Resort in Dénia, Alicante. That was after Gustafson hit an outstanding shot from 212 yards with a seven-wood.
It took three more holes to separate the teams, but Sweden eventually won with a tap-in birdie on the 18th, after Australian Karrie Webb's 20 foot birdie putt horse-shoed out of the hole.
The Australian pairing of Webb and Karen Lunn had set the target with a six-under 66 in the final round of the Valencian Cup format, which is a variation on Greensomes. In the final round they started with four birdies in a row and added two more at the 11th and 18th holes.
After heading back to the 18th tee, there was a rare display of nerves as three of the four tee shots headed left into the trees next to the fairway, but both teams recorded pars. At the second extra hole, Lunn rolled in a six-footer for birdie which was matched by Nordqvist's putt from five-feet.
At the third playoff hole, Gustafson produced her third successive drive which split the fairway, before an ice-cool Nordqvist played a sensational four-iron into the middle of the green, setting up a 35 foot eagle putt. Gustafson's effort finished just right of the hole, leaving Nordqvist a tap-in for birdie.
When Webb's 20-foot birdie putt hit the hole and lipped out again, they were pipped to the title. Sweden, who started the final round with a two stroke lead after a 70 in the fourballs on Saturday, shot 62 in the Valencian Cup format on Friday.
After the win, Nordqvist said: "Coming into 18 in regulation, knowing that we had to make eagle to get into the play-off, it was either win or lose; all or nothing. We both hit the fairway and when Sophie hit that incredible shot up on the fairway we had a chance of making an eagle just to get in there. So, just getting in there, I mean, you just go for it. It took us three holes. Karrie hit a great putt on that last hole and unfortunately it didn't go in. Coming up with a birdie and winning, it's just an incredible feeling right now."
Gustafson, who finished first on the Ladies European Tour's 2009 Henderson Money List, said: "It was very exciting. Anna is one of the best putters in the world so I just knew that if I got it somewhere on the green then we would have a good, good chance."
The Australian team left disappointed. "You want to win so badly but like I said, we just didn't really get the job done," said Lunn. "We didn't give ourselves enough chances. We hung in and hung in, in the playoff but Webby hit a great putt there and I don't know how it missed. It's a bit devastating to lose like that, especially when she hit such a great putt."
Webb said: "It's been a great week. I've had a lot of fun with Karen and we've played well. Obviously the Swedes make an eagle at the last, put us into a playoff and we never had two balls in play that hit the fairway at all on 18 in the playoff, but we had our chances and if it was meant to be that one would have gone in. It just wasn't meant to go in, I guess."
Italy's powerful pairing of Veronica Zorzi and Giulia Sergas finished third at 19-under-par, while Denmark, teaming Iben Tinning and Lisa Holm Sorensen, finished fourth at 16-under-par.
The home nation of Spain, represented by Tania Elosegui and Emma Cabrera Bello, finished in eighth place on 11-under despite co-leading after the first round with Austria. They were assisted by Elosegui's hole in one at the 152-yard fourth using a seven-iron in the final round.
Christel Boeljon and Marjet van der Graaff of the Netherlands, who won the trophy last year, ended with a 72 and a total score of eight under par. Austria's Nicole Gergely and Stefanie Michl, who tied for the lead after the first round despite sharing a set of clubs, finished a shot back in 14th place.
The €350,000 Comunitat Valenciana European Nations Cup is in its third year on the Ladies European Tour schedule and is a 72-hole event with 18 teams each comprising two players. The winning pair shared €84,000. Australia and the United States were the two invited teams from outside Europe.
The first and third days were fourball, in which four balls are used and the player with the fewest shots records their score for that hole. The second and fourth days were Valencian Cup, where the players tee off then switch and play their partner's ball for the next shot (on par 4s) and for the next two shots (on par 5s) before selecting the best ball and completing the hole in alternate shot (foursome) format. On par 3s the best tee shot is selected before completing the hole with the same ball in alternate shots.