Meghan repeats the trick with fine victory in New South Wales

Meghan MacLaren was all smiles after she won the Womens New South Wales Open for the second year in a row. Picture courtesy of Tristan Jones/LET
Meghan MacLaren was all smiles after she won the Womens New South Wales Open for the second year in a row. Picture courtesy of Tristan Jones/LET

Wellingborough pro Meghan MacLaren emphasised her talent and character as she recorded a second victory on the Ladies European Tour by retaining her Women’s New South Wales Open title at Queanbeyan GC, Australia.

The defending champion needed to display all her mental strengths, particularly over the closing few holes, as she completed a three stroke win with an impressive two-under-par final round of 69.

Despite being tied for the lead at the start of the last round, MacLaren trailed by two shots with three holes to play, before she stormed past her rivals with a magnificent eagle on the 16th hole, a par at the next and then a birdie on the closing hole.

The 24-year-old, who grabbed her maiden LET victory 12 months ago at Coffs Harbour GC, admitted: “I wish I could play all of my golf in New South Wales.

“It’s a bit of a weird one, because it’s not at the same course, so it almost doesn’t feel like the same tournament. It must be something about Australia and coming to the end of the whole trip.

“It was pretty gritty out there for a long time and quite nerve wracking. As much as you want it to be like the last few days and all controlled and straight forward, it just wasn’t like that.

“I had to hang in there and even though I dropped a couple of shots, I knew that things were going to be close and nobody was running away with it and I just hoped for a moment of magic somewhere, and it happened.”

After shooting rounds of 70, 66 and 67 to sit joint-top with Sweden’s Lynn Carlsson going into the final day, MacLaren lost the lead when she found the trees on the 13th hole.

The former Northamptonshire Ladies Amateur champion responded in brilliant fashion as she rolled in an eagle putt on the 16th hole after striking a three wood over the trees to just six feet, before calmly sinking a 12 footer for victory on the last.

She said: “It’s funny, I had almost the same shot yesterday (approach on the 16th hole) where I had to hit a 30, 40 yard cut with a three wood around the trees and I pulled it off.

“So I thought, ‘I know I’ve done it; I know I need something.’ I knew the lead had gone to 11-under at that point, so I was chasing and as soon as I hit it, I hoped that it would be right and it was.

“Last year was my first win and that was a big deal and I don’t think anything can compare to that. You don’t want to be a one-win wonder. There was a bit more pressure this week, so to come through that feels amazing.”

The victory extends a stunning start to the year for Northamptonshire ladies on the Ladies European Tour after Kettering’s Charley Hull won the opening event of 2019 in the United Arab Emirates.

With Hull almost certain to make her fourth Solheim Cup appearance later this year due to her world ranking, the prospect of the former County team-mates re-uniting at Gleneagles in Scotland to face the United States is a growing possibility.

MacLaren, who is competing in the South African Open this week, currently sits third in the LET Order of Merit, one place above Hull.