Island Paradise for Aussies

23 Sep

Stacey Keating celebrates with caddie/boyfriend Darren Peters

Australian Nikki Garrett made a scorching start to the 2012 Tenerife Open de España Femenino but it was compatriot Stacey Keating who eventually left Golf Las Américas with the main silverware.

Garrett, the Ladies European Tour’s 2006 rookie of the year, opened with a bogey-free career-best eight-under 64 to take a three-shot lead. It came as no surprise that 28-year-old from Gosford (New South Wales) was quick out of the blocks in the premier event on the Spanish women’s golf calendar. She won the 2007 Tenerife Ladies Open at Golf Del Sur and the Open de España Femenino at Country Club Mediterráneo in Castellón the following week. She also tied for second behind Becky Brewerton in a non-official Ladies European Tour matchplay event at Golf Las Américas last June.

Halfway leader Nikki Garrett

“I love Tenerife; I love Spain.  I had both my wins in Tenerife, Spain, so it feels a lot like home. I’m always very relaxed when I play in this part of the world.”

The next day she scrambled to a 73 but still retained a one-stroke lead for the weekend. On the Saturday she slipped with a 74 and relinquished the lead to German Caroline Masson, as Keating – the number one ranked female Australian amateur in 2010 (Garrett achieved the same honour in 2005) – moved into second place one stroke back.

On the final day, Masson and Keating finished level on nine-under 279 before the Australian birdied the first extra hole for her first LET victory in just her second season on the tour.

Later, the 26-year-old from Ballarat (Victoria) said victory would make amends for the huge disappointment of the previous week when she was disqualified from the Ricoh Women’s British Open for signing for an incorrect score when lying in a tie for 32nd place.

“I’ve probably had the worst week of my life and the best week of my life in two weeks. It was very disappointing last week but this makes up for it, I can tell you. It will be all forgotten, last week.” She paid tribute to her caddie, Darren Peters (who is also her boyfriend), and the support of mentor Karrie Webb.

“After the disappointment of last week she’s been great. Her and Karen Lunn, I have to mention her as well. They’ve been unbelievable. I don’t like to say, the veterans out here, but they’ve been great and they really have helped me, and Kaz has been great out here this week.”

Veteran Trish Johnson finished third, one stroke out of the play-off, and Garrett closed with a 70 to end up fourth; while Carlota Ciganda and Tania Elosegui were the leading Spanish players, in a four-way share of fifth place with Esther Choe and Lee-Anne Pace.

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