Smilla Soenderby of Denmark shot a spectacular final round 10-under-par 62 and won the Women’s Irish Open with an eagle on the first play-off hole.
The 23-year-old Soenderby started the final round nine strokes behind the leader but shot 11 birdies to finish in first place at 16 under par.
Anne van Dam of the Netherlands held a three-stroke lead going into the second round at Dromoland Castle, but she shot a 71 and finished tied for third with Soenderby and Lisa Pettersson of Sweden.
The victory on the Ladies European Tour was so emotional for the Dane that she cried.
This victory made up for last year’s heartache in county Clare, when Soenderby missed the play-off by one stroke, losing to Klara Spilkova of the Czech Republic after a three-putt par from 20 feet.
Pettersson, a 28-year-old Swede, looked like she was going to win in regulation after making a chip-in eagle on the 15th and then birdies on the 16th and 17th holes. However, she missed the fairway on the 18th hole, joining Soenderby and Van Dam in the playoff after shooting a 68.
Despite entering the final day looking out of contention, Soenderby finished more than two hours ahead of the leaders.
Van Dam, the tournament’s long-time leader, was being driven back to the 18th tee when disaster struck: her driver snapped when the clubhead became entangled in a fairway boundary rope.
Soenderby’s fantastic second shot around the tree in the center of the 18th fairway matched Van Dam’s brilliant approach to the par-five, and Van Dam’s nerves in the last stages allowed her to hit a superb drive with her three wood on the first play-off hole.
Soenderby rolled in her 14-foot eagle attempt, and the victory was hers when Van Dam missed her chance from 12 feet. Pettersson’s hopes were dashed when she missed her birdie attempt after a bad chip.
After shooting 66 for the second straight round, Van Dam found herself three strokes ahead of the rest of the field on Saturday night, giving her a good chance at her first Ladies European Tour victory since 2019.
The 2019 Europe Solheim Cup participant made two bogeys in her first five holes but looked in control after making birdies at holes seven and eight. However, her play grew increasingly sloppy on the back nine.
After a wild drive, Van Dam made a par putt from 20 feet on the short par-4 14th, but a bogey on the par-3 17th ensued from another of her pulled short irons.
Despite making the playoff thanks to a birdie on the 18th hole, the Dutch golfer was unable to add to her five previous Ladies European Tour victories.
Irish sensation Leona Maguire, who was eight strokes behind Van Dam going into the day, moved to the outskirts of contention by making three birdies in her opening six holes but played her next 12 holes in two over to finish tied for fourteenth at 71.
Sara Byrne and Beth Coulter, both Irish amateurs, tied for 36th with scores of four under par, and Olivia Mehaffey, also an amateur, tied for 50th with a final round score of one under par.
After shooting a 67, Australian Kirsten Rudgeley placed fourth at 15 under and missed the playoff by one stroke.
Annabel Dimmock of England and Sara Kjellker of Sweden tied for fifth place, one stroke behind the leaders; Diksha Dagar of India finished seventh; and previous year’s winner, Spilkova, placed eighth.