Either way you look at it, the Hero Women’s Indian Open was won/lost on the back nine of the DLF Golf & Country Club. That it would go down to the 18th green, and Camille Chevalier making birdie to win by a shot in her rookie season on the Ladies European Tour, seemed improbable at the start of Sunday.
Leading by three shots, Michele Thomson carried her form into the final day. It only got better as the opposition wilted before her birdie-making spree. By the seventh hole, the lead had swelled to five shots, and it seemed the race was for the second place.
Many congratulations Camille Chevalier on your maiden win on the Ladies European Tour. Our champion for 2017 Hero Women’s Indian Open. @HeroMotoCorp @wgaofindia @LETgolf pic.twitter.com/Cg1dUlCSnI— Women’s Indian Open (@WomenIndianOpen) November 12, 2017
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After playing out a flawless front-nine, such was the Scot’s confidence that she even stopped to oblige eager children with autographs before making the turn. That it’s never over in sport till it’s over was the last thing on her mind.
What ensued was a mess — two bogeys and a double, and coming from one who had dropped a shot just once in the tournament till then, would have been a bitter pill to swallow.
Michele had a last chance at redemption on the 18th, to force a playoff, but left herself a putt too long. Settling for par, she fought tears to say there was always another day, but this week will find mention in her roller-coaster ride in life and golf.
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As for Camille, going out with no expectations helped keep pressure at bay till the birdie putt on the 18th. Fighting to keep her card on the LET for 2018, at 87th, she was looking to break into the top-80 on the order of merit. A win was farthest on the mind.
It was a conservative front-nine, a birdie and bogey balanced it out, but the 23-year-old from Marseille, France, stayed steadfast. ‘One shot at a time’ was the approach and it paid off, as at no point this week did she lose track of the leader, finishing joint second on the first two days.
Take a bow Camille Chevalier @camchev from 🇫🇷 2017 @HeroMotoCorp @WomenIndianOpen champion! A winning 54-hole score of 204 (-12) at DLF G&CC pic.twitter.com/VTyttivBx1— Ladies European Tour (@LETgolf) November 12, 2017
The putts started to roll in on the back-nine and five birdies on the home stretch sealed it for Camille. Her caddy, Maroof, played his role too, and like the champion he had his moment, carried to the prize-giving area on shoulders.
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Hoisted to the top so early in her career, Camille was lost for words — ‘awesome, super special’ and a pump of the fist was all she could manage. Even in that state, there was relief that a decision taken some years ago — choosing golf over tennis — had come right.
With scores of 69, 68, 72 @vanikapoorgolf finishes as the Top Indian (Tied 6th) at this year’s @HeroMotoCorp @WomenIndianOpen. #HWIO17 pic.twitter.com/3VkPaZTENH— Women’s Indian Open (@WomenIndianOpen) November 12, 2017
Top final scores
204: Camille Chevalier (68, 69, 67)
205: Michele Thomson (70, 64, 71)
208: Anne Van Dam (71, 70, 67); Carlota Ciganda (70, 68, 70); Sarah Kemp (71, 66, 71)
209: Klara Spilkova (69, 70, 70); Vani Kapoor (69, 68, 72); Celine Boutier (71, 66, 72)
212: Aditi Ashok (70, 70, 72) T13.