Sunday June 23, 2013: Brezno, Slovakia:
Former European No.1 Gwladys Nocera gave herself a confidence lift when she won her first Ladies European Tour title for five years on Sunday.
The 38-year-old Frenchwoman, whose last tournament victory was at the 2008 Madrid Ladies Masters, took the Allianz Ladies Slovak Open presented by Respect with a four stroke margin of victory over South African Lee-Anne Pace.
“I’m very, very happy and pretty emotional,” said a tearful Nocera after claiming her 11th LET title. “It’s been a while since I lifted a trophy. It was hard again today. I don’t feel like I’m hitting the ball like I should and I don’t feel that I’m hitting the ball well enough, but I tried to stay patient and draw on my experience.”
Although Nocera started the day with a two stroke lead over Pace, the win was anything but simple.
Nocera bogeyed the second hole and was caught in a share of the lead after Pace birdied the difficult par-four sixth.
However, the 32-year-old South African immediately double bogeyed the next hole after taking a penalty drop from a lateral water hazard.
Nocera birdied the eighth to go three strokes clear, but then three-putted the ninth.
Pace was only one stroke behind Nocera after she holed a medium length birdie putt on 10, but Nocera pulled two ahead again with a birdie on 11.
There was a two shot swing on the long, downhill 14th hole, which Pace bogeyed and Nocera birdied, to go four clear with as many holes to play.
Nocera made her putt just before the heavens opened and officials called a suspension due to the threat of lightning in the area.
Although there were sunny skies at the clubhouse, black clouds loomed at the bottom of the valley and loud rumbles could be heard from the storms only five kilometres away.
After a 45 minute delay, the leaders returned to the course and Pace picked up a stroke on 15.
At the par-four 16th, after hitting a poor drive behind a tree, Nocera holed a crucial putt of seven metres to save par, while Pace missed her chance for birdie.
“I made probably the best putt of the week on that hole so it made things easier for the last two holes. I knew it was going to be tricky,” Nocera said.
Nocera then sealed a final round of 70 with a chip and tap-in birdie putt on 18 to end nine-under-par after four rounds before being sprayed in champagne by her French colleagues, including Jade Schaeffer, Caroline Afonso, Alexandra Villatte, Julie Greciet and Marion Ricordeau.