Pedersen triumphs yet again with team victory at Aramco Team Series

Pedersen triumphs yet again with team victory at Aramco Team Series
From left, England’s Hannah Burke, Emily Pedersen and Finland’s Krista Bakker with their Aramco Team Series Jeddah champion trophy. (Golf Saudi)
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Updated 13 November 2021

Pedersen triumphs yet again with team victory at Aramco Team Series

Pedersen triumphs yet again with team victory at Aramco Team Series
  • Slovenia’s Pia Babnik beats Olivia Cowan to win individual title

JEDDAH: Reigning champion Emily Kristine Pedersen from Denmark successfully defended her team title with a playoff victory in the Aramco Team Series Jeddah on Friday. Meanwhile, Slovenian teenager Pia Babnik bagged the individual honors.

Pedersen saw off Lydia Hall from Wales over two extra holes at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City to secure the title for Team Pedersen, which also included Solheim Cup star Hannah Burke, from England, Krista Bakker, from Finland, and Ahmed Al-Subaey, the team’s amateur player.

Team Hall — which also included Becky Brewerton, from Wales, Luiza Altmann, from Brazil, and amateur Victor Green, a former NFL star — and Team Pedersen finished tied on 51-under after 54 holes on the Red Sea coast.

The captains could not be separated on their first playoff attempt down the par-five 18th, but then Hall found the water while going for the green in two the second time around.

Pedersen, whose tee shot left her perfectly placed in the middle of the fairway, capitalized by landing her approach within 10 feet of the pin before holing her eagle putt to claim the $150,000 top prize for her team.

“It means a lot to win again,” said 25-year-old Pedersen, whose victory last year was in the Saudi Ladies Team International, the event that proved to be the precursor to the Aramco Team Series, which was launched this year.

“I came back to Saudi Arabia hoping to get a win again and its just amazing to do it. I obviously love it around here, so it’s just great. We had a lot of fun as a team and it was a big team effort. We kept the energy high and kept each other high, so it was really just a great week.”

Last year Pedersen also required a playoff, against England’s Georgia Hall, to claim the top prize.

“Obviously I had a lot of good memories from the playoff last year,” she said, adding: “But it was fun. I feel like I know this course really, really well now, so I was happy.”

Burke returned to golf last year after a horrific Achilles injury that kept her out of the second half of the 2019 Ladies European Tour season.

Asked how it felt to now stand in the winners’ circle, six years after her only previous Tour victory, she said: “It feels really, really good — kind of a bit surreal. I’ve had a couple of tough years so this is absolutely amazing and I’m loving it.

“The injury in 2019 took its toll, not just physically but mentally, financially; I kind of had a year out, made zero money, spent a lot to rehab to get back to where I needed to be. It was mentally draining. It’s been a massive battle, really. I’ve been close to calling it a day, truthfully. So this is big.

“I’ve had massive support back home from all my family, friends and from my coach, Brian, here who has backed me all the way. Thanks to everyone.”

In the individual competition, meanwhile, there was some late drama. Germany’s Olivia Cowan headed into the final hole with a two-shot lead, and a par-5 almost certainly would have earned her a first career title, on a hole where a day earlier she found the water attempting to reach the green in two.

It proved to be Groundhog Day for the 25-year-old, as her attempt to set up an eagle putt once again ended up underwater. She scrambled to a closing 7 and a 15-under-par total.

That opened the door to Babnik, who was playing in the group behind the German and needed only a par of her own to force a playoff. The Slovenian went one better, firing a wedge to within 8 feet before rolling in what proved to be the winning putt for a birdie and a 16-under total.

“It feels amazing to have won,” said the 17-year-old. “I must admit I didn’t know what was going on in the group ahead, so I was just trying to play my game coming down 18. It was my amateur who came and told me that I had the putt to win, but I wanted to make it anyway for the team.

“The whole format of the Aramco Team Series is very relaxed and it’s definitely more fun. I was out there just trying to make birdies for the team. I’m really happy with my game and how I played today and over the last two weeks. I’ve loved playing out here in Saudi Arabia and look forward to coming back.”

The Aramco Team Series Jeddah was the last of four new $1million ATS tournaments that were added to the Ladies European Tour this season. It followed events in London, Sotogrande in Spain, and New York.