Cecilia Ekelundh defends Algarve Ladies Open
Cecilia Ekelundh from Sweden successfully defended her title to make it back-to-back victories at the €300, 000 Algarve Ladies Open of Portugal.
The 27-year-old from Solvesborg posted a final round 67 (-5) to finish at six-under-par (210) for the tournament, three shots clear of the closest challenger, the Tenerife Ladies Open Champion, Ludivine Kreutz from France.
After an opening round of 77 (+5), Ekelundh fought back with a second round 66 (-6) then finished with a magnificent 67 (-5). As well as the €45, 000 earned in prize winnings she was also awarded her second diamond ring, worth over €3,500 courtesy of ‘Janico Joias’ of Lisbon. Fitting, as she is engaged to be married within the next two years, to Johan Aronsson, who acted as her caddy for the tournament.
Together the duo overcame the ferocious 60km an hour (45mph) winds, which swirled around the Gramacho Pestana Golf Resort in Carvoeiro all afternoon and Ekelundh produced some booming drives and scintillating iron play.
Gwladys Nocera from France, one of the overnight leaders, slipped back into a tie for third position at two-under-par (214) after a 74 (+2) that included three bogeys and five birdies.
On a tough day for scoring, Cherie Byrnes from Australia fired a one-over-par 73, with five bogeys and four birdies. That was good enough for a share of third position, while the runner up Kreutz, shot a final round 70 (-2).
Kreutz and Ekelundh both received invitations to play in the Sata Azores Open, in October, as a result of their top-two finishes. Yet this year’s crown once again belonged to Ekelundh, who admitted that the event had a special place in her heart, after she won her maiden professional title last year, when the event was played at Aroeira I GC in Costa de Caparicca, near Lisbon.
“We have a saying in Sweden that goes, one win is never and twice is a habit,” said Ekelundh, who admitted to feeling a little relieved after holing her final putt for par at the last, despite playing two groups ahead of Nocera.
Her second shot at the par-5 18th found the greenside bunker and after leaving her bunker shot short off the green, she just missed a birdie opportunity with a chip that lipped out from the fringe.
“If I’d holed that chip it would have been a done deal,” said Ekelundh, adding “because I thought Gwladys was at minus three coming up the last and I know that miracle shots can happen. I wasn’t sure I had it until she went into the greenside bunker at the last.
“To finally do this after a first round of 77 and to successfully defend my title for the first time is just an amazing feeling.
“I almost gave up after the first day and I was just trying to make the cut at that point. I made a triple bogey at the third and I made two bogeys on my last two holes just because I wanted to get into the clubhouse so quickly. But I said to myself if I hang on in there I could be okay and here I am.”
With her second professional victory under her belt, Ekelundh is now feeling confident about the rest of the year.
After spending five weeks away from home early in the season, she took two weeks to go back to basics with her swing after the Tenerife Ladies Open and now finds that she is reaping the rewards.
“After being away from home for so long, I felt like I had to work on my technique because I was getting quite wide off the tee,” she admitted.
“For a couple of tournaments I was just working on my technique and my aim was to be back on form by the time of the Arras Open de France Dames. I guess it came at the right time this week, so I’m glad I did it.”
This is the first week that Ekelundh is playing with a brand new set of Mizuno clubs, although she played with her new driver for the first time in Italy. She changed the shaft to a softer shaft, added a five-wood and three-wood in France and then finally used the MX23 irons for the first time this week.
“I hit 8 fairways today and 12 yesterday, which is the most I’ve hit for a long time,” she admitted.
In addition, she also used her trusty 45 inch Odyssey two ball putter, which helped on her way to victory last year in Aroeira as well as today on a number of occasions, including when she holed a massive 40 foot putt for birdie at the par-3 15th hole.
“I’ve been using it since fall 2002 because I used to be a very bad putter and I had the yips badly,” she admitted.
She also credited “Team Ekelundh” for their help in her victory. Team Ekelundh includes her swing coach, Henrik Wahlin, who she has been seeing for seven years, her physio, Pierre Johansson, her mental coach, Martin Blom, her chiropractor, Glenn Ekstrand and a nutrition team from her home town called ‘Motive Active’, who have been helping her to lose weight and gain more explosive muscle through her diet, which involves eating less fat and sugar.
It seems to be working as Ekelundh is now hitting some of the longest drives of her career.
“Waking up today, I felt good,” said Ekelundh, adding, “My goal was to shoot another 66, so I’m happy with 67. To start par, birdie, birdie sets you up pretty nicely. Perhaps I’ll buy a holiday home in Portugal for next year.”
In America, the reigning Weetabix Women's British Open champion Karen Stupples was tied for the lead at the US Women’s Open at Cherry Hills GC, with American amateurs Michelle Wie and Morgan Pressel, aged 15 and 17.
Stupples, who will headline the next event on the Robe di Kappa Ladies European Tour, the Ladies English Open at Chart Hills GC from July 8-10, was at one over par for the tournament after shooting a 69 (-2) in the third round. She ripped off six straight birdies from holes nine through to 14 to tie for the best streak on the LPGA Tour in 2005.
Algarve Ladies Open of Portugal
Gramacho Pestana Golf Resort
24th - 26th June 2005
210 - Cecilia Ekelundh (SWE) 77 66 67
213 - Ludivine Kreutz (FRA) 69 74 70
214 - Cherie Byrnes (AUS) 69 72 73, Gwladys Nocera (FRA) 67 73 74
215 - Tullia Calzavara (ITA) 74 73 68, Veronica Zorzi (ITA) 68 76 71, Helena Alterby (SWE) 66 77 72, Anja Monke (GER) 70 71 74
216 - Georgina Simpson (ENG) 70 73 73, Karen Lunn (AUS) 71 71 74, Nina Reis (SWE) 74 66 76
217 - Lora Fairclough (ENG) 74 75 68, Ursula Wikstrom (FIN) 76 72 69, Minea Blomqvist (FIN) 73 74 70, Laura Cabanillas (ESP) 66 80 71, Karin Borjeskog (SWE) 69 76 72, Sophie Sandolo (ITA) 70 74 73, Riikka Hakkarainen (FIN) 73 71 73, Ana Larraneta (ESP) 71 72 74, Lynn Kenny (SCO) 70 72 75
218 - Vicky Uwland (AUS) 78 70 70, Marta Prieto (ESP) 76 72 70, Julie Forbes (SCO) 72 74 72, Mikaela Parmlid (SWE) 70 74 74, Sarah Heath (ENG) 72 71 75, Marine Monnet-Melocco (FRA) 73 68 77
219 - Amanda Moltke-Leth (DEN) 72 77 70, Suzanne Dickens (ENG) 74 74 71, Carmen Alonso Fuentes (ESP) 71 76 72, Kris Lindstrom (USA) 71 76 72, Sara Beautell (ESP) 74 71 74, Maria Boden (SWE) 75 70 74
220 - Kirsty S Taylor (ENG) 72 77 71, Fany Schaeffer (FRA) 76 72 72, Ellen Smets (BEL) 76 72 72, Federica Piovano (ITA) 74 74 72, Sara Jelander (SWE) 73 74 73, Asa Gottmo (SWE) 74 73 73, Linda Wessberg (SWE) 69 77 74, Dale Reid (SCO) 73 73 74, Sophie Giquel (FRA) 74 69 77
221 - Helena Svensson (SWE) 74 74 73, Elisa Serramia (ESP) 70 78 73, Vibeke Stensrud (NOR) 78 70 73, Marieke Zelsmann (NL) 79 69 73, Nathalie David (FRA) 72 75 74, Alison Munt (AUS) 69 78 74, Emelie Svenningsson (SWE) 74 72 75, Kirsty Taylor (ENG) 73 73 75, Lara Tadiotto (BEL) 72 74 75, Jill Magnusson (SWE) 70 74 77
222 - Patricia Sota (ESP) 71 78 73, Nina Karlsson (SWE) 77 72 73, Pia Koivuranta (FIN) 76 73 73, Eleanor Pilgrim (WAL) 69 74 79
223 - Becky Brewerton (WAL) 73 76 74, Emma Zackrisson (SWE) 78 70 75, Rikke Rasmussen (DEN) 76 72 75, Virginie Lagoutte (FRA) 73 74 76, Sophie Hunter (ENG) 74 71 78, Martina Eberl (GER) 75 70 78
224 - Joanne Oliver (ENG) 74 75 75, Cecilie Lundgreen (NOR) 74 74 76
225 - Marianne Skarpnord (NOR) 70 79 76, Ana B Sanchez (ESP) 77 72 76, Rebecca Coakley (IRE) 77 69 79
226 - Carina Vagner (DEN) 74 74 78
227 - Nicola Moult (ENG) 71 77 79
232 - Anna Highgate (WAL) 72 76 84
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