Welsh star Lydia hangs on to secure hard-fought victory at Stoke-by-Nayland
By Ewan Paton
Welsh golfer Lydia Hall completed a wire-to-wire victory in the WPGA International Challenge at Stoke-by-Nayland, despite a play-off scare.
The 29-year-old survived a dip in form in her second round to compose herself in the play-off against Frances’ Ines Escudier on the Gainsborough course at the Suffolk club.
Escudier, 25, over-turned a two shot swing from on the par-3 final hole after beginning her second round four shots behind the PGA Assistant Hall.
The French player, who only turned pro in 2015, birdied the 18th to finish off a six-under-par round of 66, with a total nine-under score for the competition’s 54 holes.
Hall, by contrast, bogeyed the final hole meaning that the trophy and €5,000 prize money was hanging by a thread in the penultimate event in the LET Access Series (LETAS).
With the match balanced on a knife-edge, whoever showed the most composure would claim victory – fortunately for Hall, she seemed unfazed by the pressure.
The PGA Assistant hit her approach shot to within eight feet of the pin, with the inexperienced Escudier clearing the green altogether.
Hall then had two putts to win the tournament after the French bogeyed the hole.
Again fortunately for Hall, both strokes were needed to seal victory after overcooking her first attempt, leaving herself with a six-foot putt.
Hall recently spent some time in Abu Dhabi working on improving that side of her game, and said her putting was the reason for her victory, despite a poor ending display on the green.
“The win was down to my putting again. It was good in the first round and again today. I’m playing a lot better now that I’ve sorted it out.
“I must say though, the tense finish wasn’t in my plans. Ines made me work hard for my win- so did the three girls immediately behind us as well.”
That trio comprising Sweden’s Emma Nilsson, Luna Sobron of Spain and Scot Michele Thomson won €1650 apiece, finishing equally for a tournament seven-under, two shots behind leaders Hall and Escudier.
Escudier netted just over twice that amount for finishing second in what is clearly the best result of her short career.
Both players battled until the final putt, however neither of them had a good second round and will be left rueing missed chances to secure the WPGA International Challenge.
Hall went off the boil following up her seven-under par opener with one of level par to allow Noemi Jimenez and Thomson to draw level after a scintillating start to the competition.
Escudier’s three-over par 75 also impacted her chances of winning despite six-under par rounds of 66.
This is Hall’s first victory in a LETAS tournament in her ten-year professional career.