Gwladys Nocera holds nerve to take Lalla Meryem Cup

Defending champion Charley Hull unable to repeat 2014 success

Gwladys Nocera admitted her desperation to win the Lalla Meryem Cup, holding her nerve to take the title by two shots.

Nocera admitted she had felt the pressure having lost out to Charley Hull in the previous year, saying: “I saw the scores and I remembered last year where Charley kept making birdies. 

“I knew this morning that it could happen again so all I told myself I need to play my game and make as many birdies as I can, and of course I tried my best.

“I wanted this tournament really bad, I’ve always said it and I’m just happy I did it.”

A 14th hole double bogey threatened to derail her title charge, with Nocera explaining: “It was a tough day towards the end. 

“I took a risk at 14 the double bogey which almost put me in trouble and I just missed one fairway today and that made me double bogey, that was a shame.”

This run of form could see the 39-year old take a place on the Solheim Cup team with competition for places hotting up.

“I want to be ready for that,” said the French native, and she admitted there is still work to be done: “And if I get in I think there are a lot of things still to work on, so I’m going to talk to my coach tomorrow and see what we can improve still and be ready for the big tournaments.”

Nocera, who lost a playoff showdown with Charley Hull in the previous year, lead throughout the tournament and saw off all challengers to take her 14th European Tour title.

Hull was unable to replicate her 2014 heroics, after rounds of 74, 71, 67 and a final round 66 left the Solheim Cup star seven shots behind the eventual winner in eighth.

Hull managed her fifth top-10 finish of the season, impressive after narrowly avoiding the cut prior to the weekends action.

“I’m really happy with the way I finished and especially being nine under for the weekend,” Hull said. “I hit all the fairways today and my game is in good shape.

“I think I came back strong after being ill earlier in the week and I’m feeling good about the way I’m hitting it going into the first major of the year.” 

England’s Felicity Johnson finished tied second with Melissa Reid and South African Nicole Garcia, using her excellent start to the final round to catapult her up the standings on the final day.

Johnson declared her wayward tees hot at the 16th the stalling point of her title challenge: “It’s a teeshot that I’m not a massive fan of, but I hit it well all week but I just didn’t hit a great drive, and then I didn’t get a great lie.

“I kind of knew I was always within one or two (shots) but I wasn’t paying too much attention to it and I just played my own game, as cliché as that sounds. 

“I just wanted to get on with my stuff. Try and hit the good shots in the right places.”

Johnson was visibly disappointed after getting off to a great start: “It was a good start
today especially as I managed to keep it going on the front nine and at the start of the back nine. 

“It’s disappointing right now, but I think give me a couple of hours and take a bit of time to reflect. It was a good week all in all.”

This win moves Nocera tied-seventh in the all time Ladies European Tour title list, alongside Scotland’s Catherine Panton-Lewis.
Full leaderboard details can be found here.

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