DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — – Danish veteran Iben Tinning ended her career with a victory at the Dubai Ladies Masters Saturday, clinching the win with a birdie on the last hole to hold off Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist.
The 36-year-old Tinning, who is retiring after 15 years on the tour, shot a 3-under 69 in the final round to finish with an 11-under total of 277. She was a shot ahead of the 16th-ranked Nordqvist and England’s Melissa Reid going into the 18th hole and managed to get safely on the green to knock down a birdie putt for the victory.
Tinning hugged her husband Lasse who caddies for her, after Reid made a bogey putt to end up in third place. It was Tinning’s sixth tour victory – and first since 2005 – and helps erase the bad memories of playing here in 2007 when she missed a putt on the 17th and then hit a shot in the water on the 18th to hand the win to Annika Sorenstam.
“It’s crazy,” she said with a smile. “I know it’s going through my head now but I can’t believe I won. It was amazing. I just tried to keep strong out there and it was tough sometimes. I cannot believe this. I am so happy.”
This time, it was Reid who couldn’t hit the shots down the stretch.
Reid took the lead briefly on the front nine only to fall three shots back after she made a couple of bogeys and Tinning countered with two birdies in a row. But the 23-year-old clawed a shot back and was in contention before she hit a drive on the 18th into the woods that led to her bogey.
“I made two or three stupid mistakes that cost me three shots,” said Reid, who had her first win on the tour this year in Turkey. “All in all, I’m really happy for Iben. It was her last tournament and she played fantastic. She didn’t make any mistakes at all.”
Playing in the group ahead of Tinning and Reid, Nordqvist also kept it close until the end. She had a bogey-free round that included two birdies missed a long birdie putt on the final hole to ease the pressure on Tinning.
American Michelle Wie, struggling with back problems all week, was eight shots behind going into the last round but moved up to a share for sixth place after shooting a 5-under 67 for the best score of the day.
“Yeah, I’m just happy to be done. I’m happy I made it through,” Wie said. “It’s been a little bit of a struggle this week but I was really happy to end on a really good note. Things happened a lot better. Just hit a couple of shots closer.”
Meanwhile, Lee-Anne Pace won the Tour’s Order of Merit, fending off a challenge from England’s Laura Davies to become the first South African to top the women’s money list.
Although she struggled to an 11-over total of 299 in Dubai that included an eight-over 80 on Sunday, the 56th-ranked Pace won her first tournament on the tour in Switzerland in June and then four more to take the money lead.
“Really good year, five wins is more than expected,” Pace said. “I really wanted to start off winning in the year and then to get close to the money list in the middle of the year spurred me on a little bit more. To have a different goal and then to do it is an amazing feeling.”
It is a remarkable development for Pace, who lost her European Tour card in 2007 and was 21st on last year’s money list. Now she’s already looking ahead to next year, setting her sights on a first major title and a maiden win on the LPGA Tour.
“Now, my goals are a lot bigger and I believe I can do anything I want,” Pace said. “After winning five tournaments this year, I know anything is possible.”
Davies, who finished second on the money list, needed a top-two finish to overtake Pace. But she shot a 3-over 75 on the first day to effectively end the title race. Davies finished with a 1-over total of 289.
“The first day killed me. I shot 3 over and could have been 10 over,” Davies said. “I did really well to hang onto anything like a score, and the last three days I did really well. Barring the triple bogey on 8 on the second round, I would have shot under par every round.”
Looking back on the year, Davies said she wished she had played more tournaments on the tour but praised Pace as a deserving winner. Davies played eight fewer tournaments than Pace.
“She’s the one that when I went ahead of her after Spain, she hit back with two wins and you just can’t say enough about that,” said Davies, a seven-time Order of Merit winner.