Nelly Korda shot a four-under 67 to win the Lacoste Ladies Open de France for her first Ladies European Tour title.
Korda, who has won two titles on the LPGA Tour and one on the Symetra Tour, held a one-shot lead heading into the final round, but she carded six birdies and two bogeys on a blustery final day for a total of 15-under-par to win by eight at Golf du Medoc near Bordeaux.
“Conditions were tough, but I tried to stay level headed and I tried to keep my head down and make as many birdies as possible,” said the 21-year-old from Bradenton, Florida, whom, together with her sister Jessica, was the joint leading points’ scorer for the United States Solheim Cup team at Gleneagles last weekend.
“I was consistent and hit a lot of fairways and greens, so I gave myself a lot of opportunities and my putting was quite good. I played really well last week and unfortunately we didn’t get the win, but I’ve been playing really solidly. I played a KLPGA event a couple of weeks before Solheim and I finished second there, so I’m playing really solid and hopefully I can do it again.”
Korda was making her tournament debut and becomes the third American in four years to win the Lacoste Ladies Open de France, following on from Beth Allen and Cristie Kerr, who won at Chantaco in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Although the world no.10 was born in the United States, her parents are the retired professional tennis players Petr Korda and Regina Rajchrtová from the Czech Republic and she added: “It feels great to win in Europe and hopefully I’ll win one day in Czech.”
Céline Boutier finished second while her European Solheim Cup teammate and last year’s tournament winner Caroline Hedwall tied for third with Joanna Klatten.
Korda had led by six at the tournament’s halfway stage, before Klatten shot up the leaderboard with a back nine of 29 in her third round. However, the home hope had a nightmare start and was eight over after her first six holes.
Korda made her first birdie on the third, but threw a lifeline to Boutier with a bogey on the seventh. She then birdied the ninth, 11th and 12th, bogeyed the 13th and birdied 14 and 16 to gain a seven-stroke advantage. Boutier then failed to escape from a greenside bunker at her first attempt and made a bogey on the last hole and Korda tapped in for a par.
Boutier carded three birdies and three bogeys for a level par 71. She said: “I’m very excited about the result because right after Solheim, I didn’t know what to expect, physically and mentally after that week. Nelly played very well and it was going to be hard to catch her, especially in those conditions, so I’m happy with the result. I have to say, the back nine was a little tough.”
Having been eight-over-par for her first six holes, Klatten rallied with birdies on seven, nine, 14 and 16 and was happy with a five-over-par 76.
Her equal third place prize cheque for €17,063 was double the amount that she has earned from 12 events on the LPGA so far this year.
She said afterwards: “It was a very eventful round. I played solid but I had three disastrous holes, so if you take those out of the equation I played pretty solid and it was a third place finish, so I’m okay.”
European Solheim Cup player Azahara Muñoz, a two-time winner of the event, tied for fifth place with Laura Fuenfstueck, Julia Engstrom, Olivia Cowan and Manon De Roey, while Jessica Karlsson and Charlotte Thompson tied for tenth.
With a tie for 12th place, Esther Henseleit moved to the top of the order of merit and now faces the prospect of becoming only the third player in history, following Dame Laura Davies and Carlota Ciganda, to win both the LET order of merit and the leading rookie award, in the same year.