It’s called “trending.” So maybe we should have seen that Perrine Delacour is currently a player on the rise. And maybe we should not be surprised that she shot a six-under par 67 on day three of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open at Royal Adelaide.
Top of the money-list on the 2019 Epson Tour - the LPGA’s “Developmental Circuit” - Delacour arrived at Royal Adelaide fresh off a solid performance in last week’s Vic Open. In windy conditions at 13th Beach, the tall 25-year old Frenchwoman finished T-16, six shots shy of the four-hole play-off that saw Hee Young Park emerge victorious.
Perhaps just as relevant is that Delacour has a history of success in windy conditions on fast-running links. In 2009 she won the British Girls Championship at West Lancashire on England’s windswept north-west coast. And three years later she was a semi-finalist in the British Ladies Championship at Carnoustie - one of the world’s toughest tests - in Scotland.
“I enjoy that sort of golf,” said Delacour. “You can hit so many different shots. It’s more fun.”
Royal Adelaide isn’t quite adjacent to the sea, of course. But in many ways the course plays as if it is. Unlike the “hit and stick” golf we see so much of at the sharp end of professional golf, the shots this week have contained a welcome element of both bounce and roll. As someone once said, “the pin isn’t necessarily the target, just the destination.”
Anyway, all of the above was certainly to Delacour’s liking. Six birdies in her first ten holes carried the Parisian all the way to ten-under par and right into contention for the title. Thereafter she was a little more circumspect - one bogey and one birdie over the closing eight holes - but maintaining such a fast start is always difficult, both physically and mentally.
“Especially early on, I was hitting pretty close to the pin,” she said. “And I was making the putts. All I was trying to do was keep things rolling and keep hitting good shots and good putts. I felt like the key was to stay patient. It is impossible to make every putt, but important to try. Towards the end of the round I wasn’t hitting as close to the pin. So it was harder to make birdies. The toughest thing is to stay in the moment.
“The momentum I built was nice. But it was also hard. While I wanted to keep it all going, it is difficult to do so without thinking about the score or the leader board. And when the television cameras arrived, I knew I was in contention. They are hard to ignore.”
Indeed, the last few holes were a bit of a struggle for the woman who won twice on the second-division Epson Tour last year. Her tee-shot to the short 16th came up well short of the green, her chip pulling up maybe 12-feet away. And the putt, for once, was missed.
Still, that was Delacour’s only bogey, as the shortest club in her bag again came to the rescue over the last two holes. A nasty little downhill left-to-righter from six feet disappeared for birdie on the par-5 17th, statistically the easiest on the course this week. And after pulling her approach to the 18th left of the putting surface and hitting what can only be described as a “clumsy” chip, she holed again from 15-feet for a heartening par.
For all of which, Christian Kim must earn at least an assist. Last year, the American - who shot 68 herself to reach eight-under par - gifted the putter in question to Delacour. Which is perhaps just as well. It doesn’t look as if Kim is going to get it back any time soon.
“Christina gave it to me last year when I was struggling on the greens,” revealed Delacour. “I liked the look of it and asked to borrow it. But she said I could keep it because it never worked too well for her. It did for me though. I like the way it makes the ball roll. I used it all last year on the Epson Tour and it was working well today. I especially enjoyed that putt for par on the last. That was a good save. It will be in my bag for a while I think.”
We think so too.