The 22-year-old sealed her fifth Ladies European Tour victory and her first on the LPGA TourStark extends her advantage at the top of the 2022 Race to Costa del Sol
Maja Stark fired an exceptional course record of 63 (-10) on the final day of the ISPS Handa World Invitational to win by five strokes.
The 22-year-old began the day two shots behind overnight leader Amanda Doherty but got off to a sensational start with birdies on the first, third, fifth and sixth.
Stark added rolled in two more back-to-back on eight and nine to make the turn in 31 (-6), but the Swedish star didn’t stop there.
From holes 12 through to 14 she rolled in three birdies consecutively before making another on the 17th and despite finding the water on the last, Stark made the up-and-down for par to win with a total of 20-under-par.
“I don’t think it’s landed yet,” said the five-time LET winner. “I was just feeling so nervous. All day, I just kind of reminded myself to be calm and just take it one shot at a time, but it’s been easier said than done.
“I think playing three holes at a time was a big key because it would just be so easy to think I’m whatever under par, and then you kind of crumble after that because you get too nervous. But every time, I was like, just three more holes, three more holes.
“I tried to not watch the leaderboards. I usually do, but I just thought, well that’s not going to help me, so I tried to not look at them. Then I caught a glimpse of one on 13 and saw I was leading, but it was still pretty tight at the top, and then I tried to not look at it. Then I walked up on 17 green, and I saw that I was leading by five and thought whoa this is nice.”
After winning the tri-sanctioned event, Stark officially accepted LPGA Tour Membership and will become a rookie for the rest of 2022.
“It means the world. That was all I came here for,” she continued. “I just wanted that winner’s category. I was so nervous. I hate qualifying and going to Q-Series, it’s great that I don’t have to do that again.
“I’ve been dreaming about playing on the LPGA Tour for a long time. It’s just been so frustrating when you feel like maybe you could play there, but it feels like the road is so long and with Q-School – if you have a bad week you’re out, and then you have got to wait another year. It’s really nice to just skip that part and just go ahead to the fun stuff.”
American Allisen Corpuz finished in second place on 15-under-par after producing a round of 68 (-5) on the final day at Galgorm.
“I played really solidly,” she said. “It is tough to beat 10-under par, but it was really awesome to play with Maja and just see how well she played. Plus, to be able to play a really good weekend, as well, for myself.
“My putting was back from vacation this week, so it was really great just seeing some really good putts roll today, and finally kind of figuring out a couple of things in my swing. I’m going to go home and work hard and see if I can do one better.”
England’s Georgia Hall carded a final round of three-under 70 to finish in third place on 14-under-par while Sweden’s Linn Grant, Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen and Chinese Taipei’s Peiyun Chien were T4 on 13-under.
On shot back in seventh place was England’s Liz Young, who finished with a final round of 69 (-4), and American pair Lauren Stephenson and Amanda Doherty were T8 on 11-under with Ireland’s Leona Maguire rounding out the top 10.
In the 2022 Race to Costa del Sol, Stark’s win means she had extended her advantage at the top of the standings and now has 3,037.64 points from 14 events.
Her compatriot Grant is still second with 2,447.66 points to her name with fellow Swede Johanna Gustavsson in third place (1,768.63).
Manon De Roey and Magdalena Simmermacher are still fourth and fifth, England’s Hall moved up to sixth place and now has 1,306.95 points while South African Lee-Anne Pace is seventh with 1,175.30.