Salonen takes second after dramatic finish
May 16, 2017 by Alex Colucci in Recap with 0 comments
In her six victories during the 2016 season, European Champion Eveliina Salonen entered the final round either tied for first place or with a lead to protect. So when the final round of the Konopiště Open came around and she had a four-shot lead, it seemed like a safe bet that she would collect yet another piece of hardware for her growing trophy case.
Vanessa Van Dyken, though, spoiled the party. And she needed one extra hole to do it.
After keeping Salonen’s lead within striking distance after round two, Van Dyken made up the difference during the final round at the Konopiště Castle Park and ultimately won in a playoff over her younger counterpart. The victory is the third A-Tier win — and fourth overall in 2017 — for the former PDGA Amateur World Champion.
Van Dyken tossed a 2-over par 69 final round score that included a 2-under par front nine and is rated at 941, while Salonen’s 6-over par 73 wasn’t enough to maintain the lead she enjoyed through two rounds.
Katka Bodová shot the hottest round with a 1-over par 68, a score that moved her up from a tie for fourth to sole possession of third place with a 13-over par 214 total. Estonian Kristin Tattar tossed a 3-over par 70 to finish alone in fourth place at a 15-over par 216. After spending two rounds solidly in third place, Henna Blomroos struggled through a final round in which her 7-over par total dropped her to fifth place at a 17-over par 218 total.
Van Dyken made short work of closing the four-stroke gap early during regulation play. Salonen teed first on hole 1, putting her opening shot just a bit too high with hyzer down the right side of the fairway. She went out-of-bounds just a handful of feet short of the green, though, and moved to the drop zone. Van Dyken opted for the straight-to-turn-over shot that just faded back left in time to avoid the tree line right of the green, before landing inside the circle.
From the drop zone, Salonen’s high forehand hyzer approach came up short, leaving her with a 25-foot headwind putt to save bogey that she missed low into the cage. Van Dyken’s 20-foot bid at birdie was good on left side chains, and the three-stroke swing closed the gap to one, before the pair both parred hole two.
On the difficult par 5 hole 3, Van Dyken made an adjustment from the previous two rounds, where she had carded double bogey sevens each day. This time she came away with a par after three clean approach shots to the green and a putt from the edge of the circle. Salonen, though, was not as fortunate. After managing par in each of the first two rounds, she came away with the bogey after her second approach shot was knocked down by a tree, and the two were tied at the top.
Van Dyken went on a run of pars through the rest of the front nine — with a birdie added on hole 8 – and took the lead outright after Salonen’s approach rolled from inside 10-feet to the edge of the circle on hole 5. She would go on to miss her par putt and surrender the lead she had held at least a share of for virtually the whole event.
Both Van Dyken and Salonen racked up four bogeys through the back nine, as Van Dyken alternated between relinquishing and retaking the lead. After two of Salonen’s bogeys came in a row on holes 15 and 16 Van Dyken held a two-stroke advantage before bogeying the uphill hole 17 after a missed putt.
With the margin down to one with one hole to play, Salonen put her drive inside the circle and made the birdie putt. Van Dyken failed to make the green, but tapped in her par putt to push to a playoff.
After the pair finished the final round tied at 10-over par 211 overall, they moved to a playoff.
Starting the sudden death playoff on hole one, Salonen went out of bounds on her tee shot, while Van Dyken’s drive found the fairway. Salonen’s bid from the drop zone didn’t find chains, allowing Van Dyken to pitch up to the green and take the win.
It won’t be long before Van Dyken and Salonen face off again, as both are the highest rated pros in the 22-player Open Women’s field at next week’s Keisari Tali Open in Helsinki, Finland. The event is three day PDGA A-Tier and kicks off the European Pro Tour.