Undaunted by pressure of leaderboard, Maja Stark shows class

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Maja Stark showcased just why she is considered to be one of the hottest prospects on Ladies European Tour with another sensational performance in Creekhouse Ladies Open. Photo: Mark Runnacles/LET
Maja Stark showcased just why she is considered to be one of the hottest prospects on Ladies European Tour with another sensational performance in Creekhouse Ladies Open. Photo: Mark Runnacles/LET

Maja Stark is the Creekhouse Ladies Open champion after holding her nerve on the final day to claim a four-shot victory in Sweden and secure a first LET title in just her third event.

Aditi Ashok continued her climb as a consecutive 72 lifted her to T12 with an overall score of 3-over 291.

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The 21-year-old Maja, who only turned professional last month, continued to play some excellent shots throughout the day in Åhus and carded a final round score of 71 (-1) to finish with an overall score of -9.

 

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It was a second professional win in the space of a fortnight for the Swedish sensation after taking the spoils in the PGA Championship By Trelleborgs Kommun on the LET Access Series at the start of last week, and she showcased just why she is considered to be one of the hottest prospects around with another sensational performance in Southern Sweden.

“It feels amazing, it’s always terrifying leading a competition, and I’m sure it will be even more terrifying as time goes on but winning has given me confidence to know that I can do it and pull it together for a whole round and put on some good golf even though I can feel my heart beating on every single shot,” said Stark.

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With a three-shot advantage to her name heading into the last 18 holes all eyes were on Stark at the start of the day, and she didn’t let that daunt her as she secured birdies on the first and third either side of a dropped shot on the second to extend her lead in the early stages.

A birdie and bogey on the seventh and ninth respectively saw her complete the front nine in steady fashion, before turning on the style as she headed towards home to pick up another shot on the 15th, with the confidence oozing through her veins as she worked her way towards the clubhouse.

 

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And even a dropped shot on the 17th couldn’t break her stride, as she sauntered down the final hole of the weekend with consummate ease to make par and set off the celebrations.

She added: “I was a bit nervous after my bogey on 17, nervous that I was going to mess up and mess up big time, but I hit solid shots on the last hole so I was more calm on the 18th than I had been all day.

“It’s so great to win and become a member of the LET, I only had one more competition planned this year because I couldn’t get into anything else, so it means so much to me.”

It was a Swedish one-two at Kristianstad Golf Club, with Stark’s compatriot Linn Grant claiming a second successive second-placed finish after a final round score of 71 (-1) saw her finish on -5 overall.

 

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Grant, like Stark, only turned professional a matter of weeks ago, but has taken like a duck to water to life on Tour, with last week’s top two showing in the Didriksons Skafto Open backed up with another impressive performance this time around.

Birdies on 11, 12 and 15 set the 2017 Ping Junior Solheim Cup player on her way in Sunday’s action, meaning dropped shots on 16 and 18 were irrelevant as she still held on to second spot, and despite finishing runner-up, Grant was delighted for her compatriot to take the victory after four tough days on course.

“I’m very happy for Maja, if I wasn’t going to win then I’m glad it was Maja who did,” Grant began.

“My game was solid, it’s a new level with turning pro but I feel like it’s a good start. Now I’ve got to continue the way I’m going, I feel like I haven’t played my fullest but there’s still plenty of years left to play so I’m ready for that.”

Race to Costa del Sol leader Atthaya Thitikul continued her impressive run of form this year to claim a tenth top-ten finish of the season, and the fourth time she has finished in the top three in an event in 2021.

After a blistering start to the tournament on Thursday which saw her shoot 68 (-4), the Thai talent was unable to recreate that sort of showing in the following three rounds, as she finished the weekend three shots under-par with a final round score of 73 (+1).

Nevertheless, the 18-year-old was keen to take the positives from another strong showing as she extended her lead at the top of the standings to 1,021.11 and learn from her mistakes going forward.

 

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“The last three rounds I struggled with my tee shots and I felt less confident with my irons. Confidence is the key to golf and if you don’t have it then you can’t play as well as you want,” Thitikul said.

“I’m just glad that I can handle it quite well, it’s not a great result but I know I did my best every single shot.”

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