ESTHER Henseleit produced a stunning victory in the inaugural Magical Kenya Ladies Open to wrap up the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit title for the German rookie.
Henseleit carded a course record eight-under par 64 on a dramatic final day at Vipingo Ridge near Mombasa, to deny runaway leader Julia Engström who led by seven shots overnight.
Twenty-year-old Henseleit, from Hamburg, became only the third player in the 41-year history of the Ladies European Tour to capture the Order of Merit and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season.
She follows Surrey’s Dame Laura Davies in 1985, and Spaniard Carlota Ciganda, in 2012.
Victory saw Henseleit leapfrog Marianne Skarpnord as the European No. 1 – Esther also become the first German player to win either the LET Order of Merit or the Rookie of the Year titles.
Esther Henseleit posted eight birdies on the Baobab Course, at Vipingo Ridge, to post a winning total of 14 under – one better than India’s Aditi Ashok, who Aditi Ashokshot 65. Engström faded to third after a two-over par 74.
Henseleit started the day seven strokes behind Engström, but quickly made a charge with birdies on the first, fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth holes to get within two at the turn.
Engström three-putted the 10th as Henseleit birdied the 11th leaving the pair were tied on 12 under.
Henseleit pulled a stroke ahead with a birdie from six feet on the 13th hole and then went two clear after Engström bogeyed the same hole.
An eighth birdie from four feet at the 15th moved Henseleit three strokes clear, but saw her lead cut to one as fast-finishing Ashok birdied the 16th and 18th.
Henseleit ended with three pars to ensure her first Ladies European Tour title, following a breakthrough professional win earlier this year on the LET Access Series, in the Skaftö Open.
Henseleit, who finished second on four occasions in 2019, said: “To close the season with a win is the best feeling I could imagine.
“To be the Order of Merit winner and Rookie of the Year is just unbelievable.
“Yesterday, after my round, I was a bit disappointed, but I just tried to do everything better today. I definitely tried to win, although I knew it would be really hard.
“After nine holes, I saw I was two shots back and I knew it was possible.
“I just tried to make a lot of birdies and I hit some great iron shots and gave myself many short birdie putts.
“The course was beautiful and it played a bit easier today, because the greens were softer. I did the best I could.”
Esther Henseleit finished third at LET Qualifying School 12 months ago and turned professional in January with a handicap of plus-seven.
The German knew she needed to win the Magical Kenya Ladies Open to snatch the Order of Merit.
And she delivered under pressure admitting on TV that she was watching the scoreboards all the way around in her fourth round.
Her season and eight further top-10 finishes, including four runner-up sports at the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic, La Reserva de Sotogrande Invitational, Ladies European Thailand Championship and Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open.
Henseleit added: “It’s been a great year on the Ladies European Tour. It’s a really friendly tour and it’s been great to travel the world each week with all the other golfers.”
•For the final scores in the Magical Kenya Ladies Open click here.