livia Cowan captained her side to a thrilling victory on Saturday in golf’s $1million Aramco Team Series at the Centurion Club.
Cowan, along with fellow German Sarina Schmidt, Indian Diksha Dagar and amateur Andy Kelsey proved an irresistible force when it mattered most through the closing holes as they pulled off a series of superb shots.
The captain set the tone with a magnificent hole-out from 78 yards for eagle at the par–5 13th. She hit a 56 wedge to the back of the green from where it spun back fully 20 feet before ending up in the cup.
Cowan celebrated and Schmidt followed her in for birdie – ideal in a format where the best two scores from all 54 holes count for each team.
The German duo’s efforts lifted the quartet into a share of the lead and then Dagar hit a hot streak with three birdies in the last four holes. Cowan would also contribute with another gain at the par-3 17th.
Team Cowan played the last hole in the knowledge that the £100,000 first prize was all but theirs and in the end they closed out at 41-under-par – three clear of Team Skarpnord.
Cowan, 25, said: “Coming in, we were just amazing. The nerves were definitely there, but we all pulled through. I’m just extremely proud.
“To be honest, we all just complemented each other. We were all so great out there – we’re a proper team. We weren’t looking out to win the individual; we were going out there as a team to win the team event and that’s paid off.”
Cowan also reserved special praise for Kelsey, a human resources director from Epping. He played off an adjusted handicap of 9 for the unique 54-hole event, which gives amateurs the chance to compete with three women professionals.
Cowan said: “He contributed a lot and was out there to have a good time. I think he kept us all calm as well, so that was good. He definitely played a big part in the team and we were lucky to have him.”
Kelsey, 50, said: “I only found out about the opportunity three weeks ago. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and am overwhelmed to be part of the winning team. Olivia, as our captain was brilliant, and kept encouraging me to try and enjoy it.”
Skarprnord was part of the quartet pipped for the lion’s share of the money on offer this week, but she gained a significant consolation with a tense triumph in the individuals’ tournament running parallel.
In regulation play, the Norwegian holed a long-range par putt to tie at 13-under-par with Atthaya Thitikul and force a play-off.
The pair returned to the tee at the 523-yard 18th and couldn’t be split at the first extra hole with both making par.
But at the second time of asking, the Thai teenager Thitikul saw her 14-foot putt lip out before Skarpnord drained a 12-footer to trigger an emotional celebration. It was her fifth Ladies European Tour title and one that she’ll always treasure.”