Klára Spilková achieved the second victory of her career at the Ladies European and her first win in five years. The 27-year-old professional golfer chalked up a playoff win at the KMPG Irish Women’s Open on 25 September 2022 and in doing so added an even more important title to go with her April 2017 win in Morocco.
The tournament in Ireland had prize money of € 400,000 up for grabs, including € 60,000 for the winner, and featured some top European players, including this year’s number one Linn Grant from Sweden, seven players from the Top 10 in the Race to Costa del Sol rankings, as well as Irish star Leona Maguire, 19th in the world rankings. It was also the last tournament of the LET season on the European continent. But in the end, it was the Czech golf pro who left all her opponents in the dust. After the first round she was tied for 3rd place, after the second and third round she was tied for 8th place and after the final round she was tied for the top spot, but she was not alone.
With a score of 14 under par (66-68-73-67), Klára went from the fourth flight from the end to a playoff, in which a birdie on the first extra hole, the par-5 18th hole, brought her victory. Her opponents in the shootout, Nicole Broch Estrup (29) from Denmark and Ursula Wikström (42) from Finland only played par and finished tied for second place. Estrup has one LET title from 2015, while Wikström has none so far.
On her way to the Irish victory, Klára managed seven birdies in the final round, among others, four on par-5 holes including the 16th and 18th holes, along with two bogeys, but the decisive moment was her par on the par-3 17th hole after playing the shot of the day. The shot ended up to the right in the penalty area, right next to the water in the mud, but instead of taking a drop, Klára took off her shoes, took off her socks and waded into the icy water of the pond to take a courageous shot.
“The position of the ball wasn’t that bad, so I decided to try to hit it anywhere on the green, so even if I had to make two putts, I would still be able to manage a birdie on the 18th hole,” said Klára, who managed the shot from the mud to about two metres from the hole and turned the putt into a par.
“I was patient. I believed in myself. It was just a matter of convincing myself that I could do it. I knew I was playing well and I had some good results under my belt,” said Klára, recalling the only three events she took part in during the Ladies European Tour this year, where she finished in the Top 10 every time.
At the start of the summer, she came in joint 2nd place at the Tipsport Czech Ladies Open in Beroun and a week later ranked 10th at the Amundi German Masters. At the end of the summer, she first finished eighth at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France and then went straight on from there to Ireland, where the LET tournament was held for the first time in a decade.
The renovated Dromoland Castle course proved very difficult despite its length of around 5.5 kilometres, with the weather proving changeable and cold, players also being hampered by rain showers and strong gusts of wind. One of these sudden changes came in the second round, when Klara was teeing off from the par-5 11th hole. The ball was taken by the wind into the grass behind the red stakes, where it could not be found. With a long putt, Klára finally managed to save her bogey.
“Then the third round was quite an adventure, I played up and down, and in particular on the second nine it was my short game that kept me afloat. In the final round, despite all the pressure, I was calmer,” added Klára Spilková.
And it was above all great putting, on greens with speeds approaching 12 feet, where she achieved her greatest professional success to date. Her boyfriend Sean Davidson acting as her caddy helped her to achieve this, just like the previous Top 10 places. It was by the way together with him that Klára also achieved her best result in the LPGA, 8th place at the Boca Raton tournament at the beginning of the 2020 season.
“Ireland was our last tournament together this season because Sean has to go back to work, teaching in school. I’m happy that we rounded off the season this way,” said Klára, who is returning to the U.S. straight away for the remaining tournaments of the season in the Epson Tour.
Thanks to this win, it is clear that she will also be playing in the LET tournament in New York in mid-October, where the Aramco Team Series continues and where she has until now been stuck on the waiting list. At the same time, her Irish victory means that she has earned a full card on the Ladies European Tour 2023. The long-time Czech number one is moving up considerably in the world rankings, according to preliminary estimates to somewhere between the high two hundreds low three hundreds.
It is also the second Ladies European Tour victory for Czech golf this year, three months after Jana Melichová’s win at the Tipsport Czech Ladies Open, where Klára Spilková came in joint second place – coincidentally with Nicole Broch Estrup who she now beat in the playoff in Ireland.