Quite a drama got played out at the LET Helsingborg Open on Sunday. Going in to the final round Swedish Solheim superstar Caroline Hedwall enjoyed a comfortable 4 shot lead over her nearest competitor and seemed headed for a win. It was looking like Helsingborg might be her warm-up for The Evian Championship next weekend. Then Hedwall had a bad day on the links, shot a 74, and Aussie Rebecca Artis had a very good day. Artis, who carded 69 for the final round, came from 5 shots behind to win the Helsingborg Open, her first pro win, and that got her a spot at The Evian Championship!
Sunday was warm and windy. Artis’s husband Geoff was on her bag. She had 3 respectable rounds under her belt, 69, 71, and 71, and started the final round slowly. After a bogie on the 5th hole she took a deep breath and did what golfers do best. She dug deep, focused, and got to work. Her strategy paid off. Starting on the 7th hole, she piled up a string of 4 birdies, pulled even with Hedwall on the 10th and moved ahead by 2 shots on the 11th.
"It was a great day out there . I played solid golf all day and to walk away with a win is unbelievable. . . I just knew that if I could get off to a good start and post some birdies early I could be right in it down the stretch . . .Rebecca Artis, reflecting on her final round at The Helsingborg Open"
Hedwall had her problems today. She doubled the 5th hole, then bogied the 10th and 11th holes, and just couldn’t get her focus back. Even so, the tournament was still anybody’s to win, or lose, at the 17th hole. Both women birdied 17, leaving Artis still 2 shots in the lead. Playing ahead of Hedwall, Artis 3-putted 18 for a bogey and the door opened a crack for Hedwall. But she couldn’t convert the opportunity. She needed to birdie 18 to go to a playoff with Artis. She didn’t do it. Her par on 18 got Hedwall a solo 2nd place finish.
"Obviously, it was my putting . . . I didn’t make anything. I was playing solid golf tee to green and I made a birdie at the end, but that wasn’t enough.Caroline Hedwall, reflecting on her final round at the Helsingborg Open"
Valentine Derrey (France), who stayed within reach of the top of the board throughout the tournament finished in a solo 3rd place, trailing Artis by 3 shots. It wasn’t at all a bad day for Derrey. Helsingborg was her career-best finish in her 3 years on the Ladies European Tour. Right behind Derrey, South African Lee-Anne Pace, who also chased the top of the board for 4 rounds, finished in a solo 4th place.
In a softer drama Swede Helen Alfredsson, 3-time winner at The Evian, announced following the tournament that she will be stepping away from competitive golf. Alfredsson, the first Evian champion in 1994, will make The Helsingborg Open her final tournament in Sweden. She remains on the player list for The Evian.
Hedwall and Artis will have another go at each other at The Evian. Both are experiencing surges in their games. Artis just surged 1 shot more than Hedwall this weekend. Historically, Evian winners come into the event with their game surging. Stay tuned.