Spain’s Carriedo wins at last

The China Post

Spain’s Raquel Carriedo holed a knee-trembling four foot par putt at the par three last to secure her maiden professional victory by a solitary shot today in the US$160,000 Taiwan Open. Carriedo, who has had four runner-up placings in the past two seasons, needed every one of her four stroke overnight lead to finish one clear of Sweden’s Anna Berg and Elisabeth Esterl of Germany in joint second spot. The 29-year-old from Zaragoza, who last season became the first Spaniard to qualify for the Solheim Cup, struggled to a three over 75 for a five under winning total, while Berg and Esterl posted rounds of 72 and 70 over the Westin Ta Shee layout. It was a hard earned and extremely emotional victory for Carriedo, who has often been referred to as the best player on the Evian Tour not to have won an event. As the Spaniard was later to admit, she made life very difficult for herself, and after a bogey at the 16th her chances of winning her first event since turning professional seven years ago appeared to have gone. But she responded with a superb eight foot birdie on the 17th to draw level with Berg at five under par with just the 18th left to play. Berg missed the green with her tee-shot while Carriedo’s ball rested on the back of the green. With her ball lying next to a drain cover, Berg could only chip to 30 feet and Carriedo was left with a two putt par for victory. “Finally I’ve won, I was so nervous all day and fighting with myself,” said an emotionally drained Carriedo after collecting the US$15,000 winner’s check. “I was swinging it too fast for most of the front nine, and leaving my ball too far away from the hole. So I just told myself to slow my swing down and things improved after that. I made a good par at seven and then birdied eight and ten. “My putting wasn’t very good today but I learned a very good lesson, that you don’t have to play your best golf to win. When there are holes left to play then you still have a chance.

“That putt at the last was very nerve-wracking, but I knew I was going to make it even though I’d been putting badly all day.”

Carriedo’s three over front nine included three putt bogeys at the fourth and fifth and a double at the sixth when she hit it out of bounds. But after slowing down her swing, she responded with a birdie at the eighth, and another at the 10th as she came home with a level par 36. It was Carriedo’s first appearance in Asia and her maiden victory moves her into first place on the Evian Order of Merit and first on the Solheim ranking after three events. She finished joint 11th last week in the AAMI Women’s Australian Open and tied for 28th a week earlier in the ANZ Ladies Masters. “The key today was definitely my birdie at the 17th,” added Carriedo, who will be playing in the Evian Tour’s MasterCard SA Masters in South Africa next week. “I thought I’d blown it on the 16th. But my Spanish friends and caddie Andy (Deardon) gave me great support and helped me through.” Berg’s even par 72 included three birdies, while Esterl had four birdies in a four under par front nine 32.

Playing the group in front of Carriedo and Berg, Esterl was also five under par as she addressed her ball on the 18th tee. But the 26-year-old German missed the green with her four iron and failed to get up and down. “I missed a few short ones on the front nine, and also hit the pin on the 16th,” said Esterl, who like Berg remains in the hunt for her first Evian Tour title. “There was no pressure on the 18th. I knew I was near the lead but I wasn’t aware what the others were on. I wasn’t nervous, I just didn’t play a very good shot.” Taiwan’s Yu Chen Huang led the local challenge and finished alone in fourth place on two under after firing a level par 72, while England’s Nicolas Moult equalled the day’s lowest score – a three under 69 – to take fifth spot at one under.