Magenta Shores CC, March 29-31, 2024

Tough love for De Roey in Open loss

The thinking goes that golfers learn more from their losses than their victories and the first lesson is just how much not winning when you have the chance hurts.

2006 US Open winner Geoff Ogilvy once said near misses come in two flavours: could haves and should haves.

Belgium’s Manon De Roey will be hard-pressed not to put the 2020 Women’s NSW Open in the second column.

The 29-year-old started the final round at Dubbo Golf Club with a five-shot lead. She had played some stunning golf over the previous two days, amassing a score of 14-under for 36 holes.

Having not won on the Tour before (though she has been a winner on the LET’s secondary circuit) she was undoubtedly out of her comfort zone.

But for all that, she played sensible, solid golf on Sunday, for 12 holes.

Having made the turn even par with two bogeys and two birdies, De Roey was still in control of the tournament.

She birdied the par-5 12th as expected and hit a good tee shot at the 13th. Then things started to go wrong.

A poor putt from 20 feet rolled five feet long, and she missed the one coming back. It was her third three-putt of the day.

She made a routine par at the par-3 14th and hit a good drive at the par-4 15th, but then luck turned against her.

Her mid-iron approach flew a couple of yards too far, took a horrible kick off the slope at the back of the green and ended behind a tree.

A gutsy eight-foot putt salvaged a bogey, but for the first time all week, she appeared rattled.

For the second straight day, she blew her tee shot wide right off the 16th and was stymied behind trees.

A brilliant low punch rolled just over the back, and she chipped beautifully to save par and take a one-shot lead to the 17th tee.

Things looked a little untidy though still, she seemed in control.

Another good tee shot at the par-4 17th appeared to have settled the nerves, but her approach was perhaps her worst of the week.

She blew her mid-iron 15 metres right off the green, a shot that has no business in the bag of a professional golfer.

She compounded the error by failing to convert the tricky up and down.
With the outright lead gone for the first time since Friday afternoon, De Roey could only stand helplessly and watch as playing partner and new co-leader Engstrom played the shot of her life at the 72nd hole.

The 18-year-old’s 5-iron from 176 metres pitched short of the flag and rolled tantalisingly close to a hole-in-one before stopping a foot from the hole.

One can only imagine how deflating that must have been for an already shell-shocked De Roey.

Her tee shot was awful, if we’re being honest, missing the green left the only place that was off-limits.

Faced with an all or nothing yet near impossible shot she flubbed her pitch then two-putted for a final, heartbreaking bogey.

In the end, she finished runner-up by two.

Full credit must go to Engstrom for her rock-solid play, especially over the closing stages.

But spare a thought also for De Roey who, with hindsight, will take much from the week.

In the immediate aftermath, though, she must be hurting which, if the experts are to be believed, is all part of the learning.

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