CELINE HERBIN delighted the home galleries when she won a three-hole play-off against Danish rookie Emily Pedersen to claim her maiden professional victory at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France.
Herbin won with a par on the third extra hole, the par-4 18th at Golf de Chantaco, after Pedersen three putted for a bogey. After becoming the first home winner of the title in 11 years, Herbin collapsed on the 18th green before being sprayed in champagne by her friends.
She said: “To win my first tournament in my home country with so many people cheering for me, it’s like a dream. I feel very lucky and I worked hard for that, so I think I deserve it and I’m very happy.”
Herbin and Pedersen began the final round tied for the lead on 11 under par, but Pedersen built a five-stroke lead after Herbin dropped three shots in the first eight holes, with four bogeys against one birdie.
Little by little, the 32-year-old from Avranches, who now resides in Santander, reeled in the young Dane with birdies on the 10th, 14th and 15th.
Pedersen then bogeyed 16 and double bogeyed 17 to drop back into a share of the lead on 11 under par. After the pair both made par on 18, they returned to the tee three more times.
“Obviously I didn’t make the best first nine holes, but I believed in myself and knew I could turn it around,” said Herbin, supported by her coach and caddie Vicente Ballesteros, the brother of Seve. “Emily was playing very well but we knew that she could get very nervous on the last few holes so I knew I had to fight until the last hole - until hole 75.”
Tearful Pedersen, who had received an invite to play in the tournament, reflected: “I’m obviously very disappointed, but I’m sure when I look back on the week I will be proud of my performance. I hope that this experience will make me a stronger and better player in the future.”
With a final round of 67, fellow Dane Malene Jorgensen ended two strokes back on nine under par to record her second third-place finish in three tournaments following the Helsingborg Open.
She said: “Of course I’m happy with third place. I have had a good feeling with my swing since Sweden so it’s nice that it still works.”
England’s Charley Hull ended alone in fourth place on eight under par after her final round of 67 and she said: “I’m pretty chuffed with a fourth-place finish after a good three weeks.
“I played well at Evian, had a good last week (in the Solheim Cup) and good this week so I’m pretty happy and I can’t wait to go to Ibiza.”
Joanna Klatten from France had made a fast start when she holed in one at the first and she carded a 67 to end fifth on seven under. Valentine Derrey, who also made a hole in one, at the fifth, finished in a tie for 38th place.
Home-town player Anne-Lise Caudal from Saint-Jean-de-Luz also recorded a 67 and finished sixth on six under par, while the champion for the last two years, Azahara Munoz, ended with a disappointing 72 to share seventh place on five under with Pamela Pretswell, Klara Spilkova and United States Solheim Cup winner Cristie Kerr.