CHEERS TO “ESTRELLA” VAN DAM
The Dutchwoman earned a new nickname – ‘Estrella Van Dam’ – after a dominant performance at Club de Golf Terramar, set against the stunning backdrop of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea.
The 22-year-old from Arnhem completed rounds of 64, 64, 65 and 65 for a 26-under-par total of 258 to claim her second Ladies European Tour title.
Caroline Masson, amateur Selin Hyun and Caroline Hedwall shared second place on 18-under after rounds of 66, 66 and 68 respectively. Ashleigh Buhai and Aditi Ashok tied for fifth on 16-under-par.
Van Dam had recorded five top-four finishes since her maiden LET victory in the 2016 Xiamen International Open in China two years ago.
Consistently the longest driver on the women’s tours, she had come agonisingly close to winning on several occasions. A short game masterclass with her coach during last week’s Evian Championship made the difference and in Spain, she outplayed a quality field of star LPGA players such as Azahara Munoz, Carlota Ciganda and Anna Nordqvist, who finished in seventh, eighth and tied ninth places respectively.
Reflecting on her performance, Van Dam said: “The first win was good, because it was the first time I was in contention and I won it straight away, but this one makes it so much more special, because I came close quite a few times after China and was really hard on myself. I kept on working really hard and I think I proved this week that I’m not only a long driver of the ball, but my iron game is good, my wedge game is good, my short game is really good and my putting under pressure is the best it’s ever been.”
“I’m so pleased with the way I played, especially today. It was not easy, starting with a big lead and knowing that on this course, people can shoot nine-under.
“I played with crazy Caroline Hedwall, who does it a few times in a year, so I knew I had to play well. On the other hand, I didn’t look at the score. I just tried to play every shot as well as I could. When I signed my card, I didn’t know what my score was or what I shot today.”
Five clear overnight, she started the final round with a birdie, then cruised to victory with further birdies on the fourth, sixth, 10th, 12th, 13th and par-3 18th holes. Her only blemish came on the par-4 11th hole, where she flew the green with her approach shot, but it was only her second bogey of the week.
“I didn’t feel nervous today, but it’s golf. You can easily shoot nine or ten under on this course and you can mess it up pretty easily as well. It was hard not to think about that the last few holes, to stay in it and not move too far ahead. It was nice walking up the 18th and beautiful scenery here with the sea and all the people. I will never forget it,” she said.
After the win in China, there was an evening of karaoke, but this time, Van Dam said that she would continue her three-week tour of Europe with a memorable drive home.
“I drove my car here, so I have to drive 15 hours straight home, but I think I can play ‘We are the Champions’ over a million times, so I’ll do that; put some good beats on and start driving home to see my family,” she said.
After a scorching day in Sitges, Masson said that she couldn’t wait to take a dip in the sea.
“It’s been a great week. Coming here, I was trying to win this tournament, but Anne’s played phenomenal all week. I think 26-under is hard to beat. Tied second is always a great week and I’m looking forward to coming back next year,” said Masson.
Hedwall also conceded that it was Van Dam’s day. “I’m really happy with the result today. It was frustrating at times for me but in the end it was impossible to catch Anne. She has played incredibly this week and I’m really impressed.”
With less than a year to go to The Solheim Cup at Gleneagles and Van Dam’s star rising, she must surely be on captain Catriona Matthew’s radar as a potential member of the European tea