Gustafson snatches Open win

SOPHIE GUSTAFSON produced one of the most dramatic finishes of the year to win the BT Ladies Open at the Warrenpoint club in Northern Ireland.

The Swede shot a level-par 72 which included only four pars to snatch victory from England’s Alison Nicholas, whose 73 seemed enough for victory until Gustafson eagled the 17th and held her nerve to par the last.

The pair began the day tied at 13 under but Nicholas moved ahead with early birdies at the third, fifth and sixth. Both players birdied the 11th to move clear of Denmark’s Iben Tinning in third.

The leaders dropped shots at the 13th but Gustafson responded with a birdie on the 14th and claimed an eagle three at the penultimate hole with a 40-foot putt, with Nicholas only able to manage par.

Both players came up short of the green with their approach shots to the 18th and Nicholas, first to play, pitched to 12 feet.

Gustafson found the crowd but putted from the rough up the steep bank to just inside Nicholas’ marker. And when the Englishwoman missed her par putt, Gustafson had to hole from ten feet to avoid her second play-off in two weeks and after pleading with the ball to turn, it finally obliged.

"It was absolutely unbelievable," said Gustafson. "I knew I needed something special down the last few holes and to make an eagle when I did was just extraordinary, I couldn’t believe it."