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Trish Johnson wins BMW Ladies Italian Open

England’s Trish Johnson claimed her first title in three years on an exciting final day at the BMW Ladies Italian Open in Rome.

It was her 18th worldwide victory and her first since the 2004 Wales Ladies Open.

Johnson’s final round six-under-par 66 took her to 15-under-par 273 in total, one stroke ahead of last week’s Deutsche Bank Ladies’ Swiss Open champion, Bettina Hauert of Germany, who had a course record ten-under-par 62 to finish on 14-under-par.

Australia’s Sarah Kemp carded a final round 68 and finished tied for third position with Frenchwoman Sophie Giquel (69) on 12-under. Meanwhile, the overnight leader Stefania Croce of Italy had a final round 73 to share seventh position with Sweden’s Louise Friberg, Ireland’s Rebecca Coakley and Spain’s Carmen Alonso, on eleven-under-par.

Johnson predicted ahead of her final round that she would need a 66 to reach 15-under to win the tournament, but she had to fight to overcome Bettina Hauert, who leapt out of the pack with a 62, which lowered her career low round by four shots.

Hauert began the day tied for 24th place on four-under-par but came charging up the leader board and held a three stroke advantage at the end of her round. She carded two birdies on her front nine, for an outward total of 33 and then played the back nine in eight-under-par 29, with four birdies and two eagles, to tie the Ladies European Tour’s record for the lowest nine holes in a tournament.

Beginning the day at nine under par, two shots adrift of the lead, Johnson fired three birdies and a bogey on her front nine to turn in 33, and then birdied the 12th and 14th holes to reach 13-under-par, just one stroke behind the leader.

However she dropped a shot at the par-three 15th hole when she pulled her eight-iron slightly into the bunker. She played an excellent bunker shot to three feet from the pin but her putt just lipped out. She recovered with birdies at the 16th and 17th holes to draw level with the clubhouse leader and then, needing to birdie the par-five 18th for victory, she hit her 105-yard approach shot to three feet with a 52 degree wedge and rolled in the birdie putt.

“I was feeling quite sick actually at that stage. I tried not to think about anything and to just breathe. I use a ball marker that just says, “Relax!” because I’m not the best at that,” said the 41-year-old London based Johnson.

“I said this morning that a 66 or 15-under-par would win it but Bettina had an excellent score and deserved to win. Something felt very good today and I have played very well all week.

“It feels fabulous. I’ve done a lot of work with my coach Scott Margets over the winter and I had a fabulous putting lesson with Christine Langford which has helped a lot.

“I had a dreadful year last year and I don’t enjoy that. I just wanted to win again. I’ve never thought about quitting. I don’t think age has anything to do with it. You either want to win or you don’t.”

Johnson, who collected a first prize of €60,000, was invited by the event title sponsor BMW to attend the final round of the BMW PGA Championship at The Wentworth Club on Sunday, where she will present the male champion with the trophy and she said she was looking forward to it.

She also receives 40 Solheim Cup points’ as a result of her victory which bodes well for her chances of making her eighth appearance in the transatlantic encounter, which takes place in Sweden in September.

 




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