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Cecilia Ekelundh wins Ladies English Open

The BBC Radio Kent Ladies English Open trophy remained in Swedish hands for the third consecutive year when Cecilia Ekelundh claimed her third Ladies European Tour victory at Chart Hills Golf Club in Biddenden , Kent .

After Sweden 's Maria Hjorth won back to back Ladies English Open titles in 2004 and 2005, Ekelundh captured this year's title by a stroke from Germany 's Martina Eberl in a spectacular final day battle which saw three players at the top of the leader board.

Ekelundh, who tied for the overnight lead with Denmark 's Amanda Moltke Leth, carded a final round 70 to win on a 210 six-under-par total. Eberl had a 70 and finished on 211, five-under-par after 54-holes.

Spurred on by the supporting galleries, Chart Hills Golf club member Danielle Masters fired a final round 70 to finish on 212 four-under-par and claimed outright third place, which was her best result in this, her rookie year on the Ladies European Tour.

Denmark 's Amanda Moltke-Leth, who shared the overnight lead with Ekelundh, eventually signed for a 73 and outright fourth position after relinquishing her final round lead.

Moltke-Leth led by one on five-under-par after 12 holes but finished on a three-under-par aggregate.

After the Dane dropped a shot at hole-13, Moltke-Leth, Ekelundh and Eberl shared a three-way tie for the lead on four-under-par.

When both Scandinavians birdied hole-14, Ekelundh's birdie broke a run of 13 pars in succession.

At 16, the pivotal hole, the Swede gained a two stroke advantage when she chipped and putted for birdie and Moltke Leth found the bunkers twice on her way to a double bogey seven.

Ekelundh birdied the short 17 th with a putt from inside eight feet to move to seven-under-par but three-putted the last from the back of the green for bogey and her victory.

“ I was a bit nervous on 18 but apart from that I was fine. I played well and I was so happy,” said Ekelundh, who previously won back-to-back Portuguese Ladies' Open titles in 2004 and 2005.

“This is one of my favourite courses all year if not the favourite. It's a good design and you ever see the same hole twice. I've had some good finishes here and I hope I get to come back and play here again.”

Ekelundh admitted that it was difficult to ignore the cheers for the local favourite Masters, who hails from nearby Pembury.

“We heard a row every time Danielle holed a birdie putt and of course it's very nice to see her play so well on her home course,” Ekelundh commented.

Masters, 23, was thrilled with her finish and she said: “It was breathtaking to see all the support from people that I hadn't seen for ages and whom I didn't know still followed my career. The extra support was in my favour which was nice.

“I set my goals really high for this week I felt as though the latter half of the year I've played really well. I couldn't be happier with the way I finished with a birdie on 18.

“I've never been in the last two groups in a professional tournament. I've just got to build on it and work on the things that have let me down this week and head to Dubai and hope for better things.”

England 's Rebecca Hudson and Australia 's Rebecca Stevenson both carded 69 and shared fifth position on two-under-par. Spain 's Carmen Alonso, Wales ' Anna Highgate and Italy 's Isabella Maconi shared seventh on one-under.

Meanwhile England 's Natalie Booth and Welsh amateur Breanne Loucks shared tenth position on a 216 level par. It was Booth's best finish in a Ladies' European Tour event and Louk's second appearance on the Tour after she also played in the Wales Ladies Championship of Europe in August.

October 9, 2006

 




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