Monday, 27 November 2023, 07:33
Local golf star Ana Peláez came away from the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España with her head held high after sealing a respectable third-place finish in the final tournament of the Ladies European Tour on Sunday.
The 25-year-old from Malaga didn't look out of place as she took on a range of major national and international women's stars at Real Club de Golf Las Brisas in Marbella.
Despite entering the final day just four shots off the lead, she could do little to stop the emergence of Indian player Aditi Ashok as the surprise winner.
Ashok's stellar performance, marked by patience and a series of impressive and steadily improving scores (69, 68, 68, 66), enabled her to outshine Peláez, Dutch contender Anne Van Dam and Saturday's leader, Australian Kirsten Rudgeley, to secure her second LET win this year.
Overall, Trichat Cheenglab of Thailand secured the Race to Costa del Sol title despite finishing considerably down the field in Marbella.
Her 55th-place finish was enough to propel her to the top of the money list, edging out Evian Championship victor Celine Boutier by less than 100 points and making her the sixth player to achieve both the Race to Costa del Sol and Rookie of the Year titles in a single Ladies European Tour season.
On a tense final day of play, Rudgeley held on to her lead until the eighth hole when Van Dam and Peláez joined the intense battle, with the latter leveraging a brilliant first round to join the main group.
However, the spotlight then shifted to Van Dam, who, after securing birdies on the 10th and 12th holes, led with a two-shot advantage which many felt would then propel her to her third victory at the Spanish Open (it would have been a record).
But Ashok had other ideas. Though she initially took seven holes to make her presence felt after a quiet start, she then staged a remarkable comeback in the second round, featuring four birdies in five holes between the 13th and 17th.
Her outstanding performance rattled her opponents, ultimately leading to Van Dam running out of steam in the final stretch and leaving Peláez with too much ground to make up.
Finishing in third place, Peláez left the course with a sense of accomplishment, highlighted by an impressive 10-metre putt on the 18th hole earning her a well-deserved ovation from the enthusiastic crowd.
Special recognition was also given to Malaga's Julia López, who secured 18th position, and Spanish amateur Andrea Revuelta who took a share of seventh place.
There was disappointment for San Pedro-born Azahara Muñoz who entered as one of the tournament favourites. In the end, she finished in 55th place on +5.
In her post-match comments, Peláez reflected on a "special week". She said: "I felt like I was ready to compete this week with more passion and calmness than ever. I think I did a really good job on that. Also, a really good week to go into the LPGA Q-Series next week. I'm happy overall.
"There were lots of positives, I was very consistent. I’m very thankful for all the learning experiences that I have had and I’m looking forward to next season."
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