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29th March 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Nocera lifts Lalla Meryem Cup

Gwladys Nocera of France receives flowers fmor Mustafa Zine Executive Director of ATHGwladys Nocera made amends for the heartbreak of her play-off defeat 12 months ago by coming back and claiming a two stroke victory in the Lalla Meryem Cup at Golf de L’Ocean in Agadir.

The 39-year-old Frenchwoman sealed her 14th Ladies European Tour title, just three months after her last victory in the Hero Women’s Indian Open.

She started the day with a two stroke lead and a final round of one under par 70 was enough to end two strokes ahead of South Africa’s Nicole Garcia (70) and English duo Melissa Reid (66) and Felicity Johnson (67).

“I remember last year when Charley Hull kept on getting birdies in the last round, so I knew this morning that it could happen said Nocera, who also won the Lalla Meryem Cup in 2007, before it was sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour.

“All I kept saying was I need to play my game and make as many birdies as I can. I tried my best, but it was a tough day towards the end. I took a really stupid double bogey, which put me in trouble. I missed one fairway today and I took a double bogey, so that was a shame, but I wanted this tournament really bad. I’ve always said it, and I’m really happy I did it.”

Nocera made a strong start with birdies on the second, third and eighth holes to keep a two stroke lead over Garcia at the turn, but there was plenty of drama on the back nine.

When she birdied the par five 11th hole, which Garcia bogeyed, Nocera held a four shot advantage, but after a double bogey on the par-four 14th hole her lead was reduced to just one stroke.

Johnson reeled in six birdies in 13 holes dipped to 13 under, but bogeyed the 16th and 18th.

After Nocera three-putted the 17th from short range, she sealed the two stroke victory with a text book par at the par-three 18th tee.

Garcia’s tie for second place was her career best finish on the Ladies European Tour and shows what she is capable of after solid preparation on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.

“I started off pretty well and was three under after nine holes,” Garcia said.

“I thought if I can just keep it going and make one or two more birdies I might stand a chance, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. It does make me feel a lot more settled. I had a good week so hopefully I can carry on the theme through the year.”

Two-time LET winner Johnson, whose last win came at the 2011 French Open, said Nocera is a class act.

“Gwladys is a great player who’s done this many times before,” Johnson said. “It’s been a little while since I’ve been in contention so it’s nice to get that feeling on a Sunday: that’s what we play golf for. I’m disappointed at the moment but give me a couple of hours and it will be alright.”

Former Prague Golf Masters champion Reid was also delighted to be back in contention.

“I actually felt pretty good this morning and it’s nice to be in this position, put yourself back in contention,” Reid said.

“My driver was not a good boy today but I scrambled really, really well. I holed a chip and holed a pitch, so it’s one of those things. I’m really happy with the progress I’m making. It’s a huge positive and I would have taken second at the start of the week.”

Following her victory, Nocera now has 19 Life Member Points and needs just one more point to become a Life Member of the Ladies European Tour.

FINAL RESULT Top 10 and RSA scores:
271 – Gwladys Nocera FRA 68 65 68 70
273 – Nicole Garcia 69 65 69 70, Felicity Johnson ENG 68 68 70 67, Melissa Reid ENG 69 68 70 66,
275 – Nanna Koerstz Madsen DNK 69 68 70 68
276 – Celine Herbin FRA 68 69 70 69
277 – Melanie Maetzler SUI 71 69 68 69
278 – Isabelle Boineau FRA 72 69 68 69, Pamela Pretswell SCO 70 68 71 69, Charley Hull ENG 74 71 67 66, Anne-Lise Caudal FRA 68 68 72 70, Anais Maggetti SUI 73 71 70 64
282 – Stacy Lee Bregman 71 70 69 72
293 – Monique Smit 75 70 77 71

PHOTO  – Lalla Meryem Cup winner Gwladys Nocera with with Mustapha Zine; credit – Tristan Jones
COPY – Courtesy of Bethan Cutler; Ladies European Tour