A first tour title for Wellingborough's MacLaren
Wellingborough's Meghan MacLaren held her overnight lead to win the Women's New South Wales Open and claim her first Ladies European Tour title in Australia.
MacLaren, 23, carded a level par final round in hot and humid conditions to finish on 10-under-par at Coffs Harbour Golf Club.
LET rookies Casey Danielson from the United States and Marita Engzelius from Norway ended two back alongside Silvia Bañon from Spain.
MacLaren’s first Ladies European Tour win comes in her 11th event, but she had previously won two titles on the LET Access Series as well as the circuit’s order of merit in 2017.
The second-year professional looked on course for the win after making two birdies in her first three holes to build a four-stroke advantage. Although she bogeyed the seventh, she made another gain at the ninth, to hold four-shot lead through the turn.
Danielson had four birdies on the front nine and added another at the 12th, but there were no further gains and it wasn’t enough to beat MacLaren, who three-putted the 13th and dropped another shot after missing the 17th green.
Engzelius, a former Symetra Tour player competing in only her second LET event, also had a level par round featuring a bogey at the seventh and a birdie at the 11th and second-year professional Bañon had a steady round of three-under, but two strokes was the closest they came all day.
“It feels incredible. I didn’t think those words would be coming out of my mouth so soon!” said MacLaren, who thanked her dad, Staysure Tour CEO David MacLaren, for carrying the bag over the weekend.
“All parts of my game were good. To go out there today and to still feel in control of my ball striking and all of that, it gave me a little bit of margin for error towards the end.
“I played well in the few events that I played last year, but you’ve got to be patient. It can take some players years before they get over the line. To do it now gives me a lot of confidence.
“I struggled a little bit out here in Australia and had a few ups and downs with my game, but you only have to look at the pictures back home in England to know that that’s not the place to be. The course set-up every single week over the last few weeks has been fantastic. Both the LET and the ALPG have done a fantastic job.”
Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth tied for fifth with Germany’s Olivia Cowan, Lydia Hall of Wales and Australian Sarah Kemp on seven-under, with fellow Australian Rebecca Artis, Swede Daniela Holmqvist and Austrian Sarah Schober a shot back.
MacLaren joins a select list of Women’s New South Wales Open champions, including former world number ones Dame Laura Davies (2008) and Lydia Ko (2012), European Solheim Cup star Caroline Hedwall (2011 and 2013) and 2015 champion Holly Clyburn, in the fourth and final Australian event co-sanctioned by the LET and the ALPG in 2018.
The Ladies European Tour now heads to South Africa for the Investec South African Women’s Open in Cape Town.