England’s Charley Hull made the best possible start to 2019 when she claimed victory in the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open to earn her second Ladies European Tour trophy.
Hull fired rounds of 67, 72 and 69 in windy conditions for an eight-under-par total at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, finishing one stroke ahead of Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord, who set the clubhouse target at seven under.
Hull needed to par the last hole to seal victory, which she delivered in style, getting up and down from a bunker behind the 18th green, with her new fiancé, Ozzie Smith, watching on. Smith proposed with a diamond ring at Christmas and now the pair have another reason to celebrate, with the prospect of another season of stunning success ahead, including a potential fourth Solheim Cup appearance in Scotland in September.
“I practised really hard over the winter, and it feels great to win back on the LET, especially since I had my first pro win in Morocco a five years ago,” said Hull, the Rookie of the Year in 2013, who went on to win the Order of Merit in 2014. “Hopefully I can get a few more wins this year.”
Hull started the final round with a one-stroke lead, and she went two ahead with a birdie on the second hole, but dropped a shot on the short third after getting stuck down a steep slope to the right of the green, holing a good eight-footer for bogey.
The 22-year-old from Kettering made another birdie on the sixth, but then dropped a shot at the 10th. An eagle on the par-5 11th, where she played her 6-iron to 15 feet, put her two clear of Skarpnord. She then holed another birdie putt from 10 feet on the 14th to reach eight-under-par and held firm in the breeze.
“I’m very happy with my round. I left a lot of putts out there, but it’s hard to putt when it’s windy like this,” she said. “It was windy all three days really, and especially on the second day. Today the wind got up in the end, and it was a tricky finish, especially the 18th hole, because you can’t hit more than a 5-iron off that tee to be short of the bunkers, or you go with the driver, and go over it all, and that’s a risky shot. With that back right pin it was a good finish and I hit a 5-iron, over the green, had a 35 yard bunker shot and I stiffed it. It was quite tricky and I made the putt, so it feels really good to be back in the winner’s circle again.”
Hull received the trophy from South African legend Gary Player, whom she said she said she had looked up to her entire career and whom she thanked for designing ‘such a great course’.