Charley Hull from Burton Latimer has won her first professional golf tournament the week before her 18th birthday.
Charley, who was made a life member of Kettering Golf Club last year, holed a four foot birdie putt on the first play-off hol at Golf de l’Ocean in Agadir, to earn her first Ladies European Tour victory at the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco a week before her 18th birthday.
She fired a career-low round of nine-under-par 62 in the final round, coming from five strokes behind overnight leader Gwladys Nocera to tie with the 12-time tournament winner on 15-under-par after 72 holes.
She made seven birdies and an eagle on the sixth, before missing a 10 foot birdie chance on 18 in regulation play to tie for the lead. However, Nocera three putted from the back of the green for a bogey four to tie with Hull.
In the play-off, Hull hit an unbelievable tee shot under pressure to within four feet of the flag, while Nocera hit hers 15 feet short.
After the Frenchwoman’s first putt drifted right of the hole and she tapped in for a par, Hull rolled her ball into the hole before jubilant scenes on the 18th green, where her local caddie was lifted onto the shoulders of his colleagues, before Hull’s own father Dave was also hailed as a hero and hoisted aloft.
Hull said: “I shot nine under today which is pretty good and I thought I had it on the last in my actual 18th hole and it just missed and then making birdie in the play-off to win it, my hands were shaking like mad and I had a putt from four feet in the Solheim down the last against Paula and Lexi. I had the same there to win and I did it and I feel like I’m a good putter under pressure now.”
The win capped a sensational 12 months for the 17-year-old, who started her career at the same course in Morocco last year where she finished second, beginning a run of five runner-up finishes.
She was the youngest ever player in The Solheim Cup and a member of the winning team in Colorado and also the LET’s Rolex Rookie of the Year.
Hull added: “With three holes to play I finished birdie, birdie, par and nearly birdied the last hole so it just slipped away.
“I never backed down and I got there, I got my first win while I was still 17, I’m 18 next week so I’m really happy. I love Morocco.
“I was here last year and played well here again.”
Nocera had led for the entire final round and Hull was one behind after her birdie on 17, so for a tearful Nocera, the loss was hard to take.
Nocera said: “My putting has been really bad the whole week so you can’t do anything when you putt like that.
“I tried my best; Charley played well today and she deserves it. She’s been close to victory for a while and she’s a great player so she deserves it.
“I had to play better and I didn’t.”