Diksha Dagar, Trichat Cheenglab, Johanna Gustavsson and Ana Peláez Triviño will have a chance to secure the outright lead in the Race to Costa del Sol this week at the Mallorca Ladies Golf Open, the penultimate event on the season-long race on the Ladies European Tour.
With the gap now just 72.27 points between Dagar and top-ranked Celine Boutier, with 500 points available for a win, the Indian could jump ahead with a 10th place finish or better this week to put pressure on the French Solheim Cup star heading into next week’s finale in Marbella, as could Cheenglab, Gustavsson and Pelaez Trivino.
There are 1000 points available for winning the remaining two events in Spain and so, in theory, anyone inside the top 27 still has a mathematical chance of winning the Race to Costa del Sol.
The leading four contenders in the field at Golf Son Muntaner this week reflect well the character of the LET, all with brilliant back stories.
For second-ranked Dagar, it would have special significance, becoming the first Indian player in the 45-year history of the LET to win the Race.
“I want to win,” she said. “It would mean a lot to me, my friends and to the country. Also, the golfing Indian golfing community. They have their expectations and they are hoping an Indian will win the Order of Merit. That will be history.”
The 22-year-old left-hander has had a highly consistent season over 25 events and collected her second LET victory in the Tipsport Czech Ladies Open in June.
“I’m feeling good and I’m very excited to play the final two events of the LET season. I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome of my performance. I didn’t do much at home [during the two-week break]. I rested and practised. I wanted to conserve energy to come back in good form. I feel brand new. My body feels well rested. That’s the reason I’m excited this week. I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome of my performance. I’m going to be more focused and it’s going to be a good challenge,” she said.
Third ranked Cheenglab, from Thailand, who has all but locked in the Rookie of the Year title, unless Sara Kjellker wins the Mallorca Golf Ladies Open, has a chance to follow in world No.9 Atthaya Thitikul’s footsteps, by winning both the Rookie of the Year and Race to Costa del Sol.
Cheenglab broke her duck in the Big Green Egg Open in the Netherlands in early September and has been targeting a top-three finish in the rankings ever since. She would need to finish in a tie for fourth (with just two players in T4) or better with Dagar finishing in 11th place and below to lead the rankings.
“I feel very fresh after going back home for two weeks. I ate and slept a lot,” said Cheenglab. “It was a nice break but I also did a little bit of practice. I changed my wedges to reduce the spin. It’s an old model so less spin after Saudi. I have to play shots differently here.
“I think there’s now more pressure for me to remain in the top three [of the Race to Costa del Sol]. Especially with only two tournaments left. But I like Spanish golf courses. I did well at Q-School in Spain and then La Sella. I like the conditions in Spain. I think these two weeks are going to be ok for me to remain in the top three. I need it because we get a big bonus! So I need to concentrate.
“We can only win this Rookie prize once in our whole life, because it’s only the first year. So, if I win it would mean a lot to me and for the fans in Thailand who always cheer for me.
“I feel very confident… almost 100 per cent! My goal this week is to play without fear and play with 100 per cent confidence. What the result will be we will see. But I have to remain confident and have no fear.”
Dagar, Cheenglab and Gustavsson will play together in rounds one and two, teeing off at 11:46 on Thursday and 10:40 on Friday.
“I will not let Diksha see my plan on the course…. only kidding,” Cheenglab continued. “They are both very stable players, they do well every week. I have played with Diksha and Johanna before and I think all our games are very similar. We make a lot of birdies and their up-and-down shots are always very good. That’s what I need to work on.”
Fourth-ranked Gustavsson is another player on a mission and a true stalwart of the LET who finished third in the Race last year, behind fellow Swedes Linn Grant and Maja Stark. She earned her maiden LET title in the Lacoste Ladies Open de France at the end of September in a field which included Boutier. Gustavsson would need to finish in outright fourth place or better with Dagar finishing in 11th and below, and Cheenglab finishing fifth and below to lead the rankings.
Gustavsson said: “I’ve been playing quite well but I haven’t had the results I wanted in the last few events. I think my game is still in a nice position and mentally I’m still in a good place. Towards the end of last year, I got a bit sick of golf, so it’s fun to be in contention for the Race. The course is very beautiful, quite tough off the green because the fairways are narrow and the rough is quite thick. The greens are small and narrow as well, so I think you have to hit it straight this week.”
One back from Gustavsson, in fifth position, is Spain’s Pelaez Trivino, who gets under way at 11:35 tomorrow. The 25-year-old from Malaga earned her sole LET title last year in Madrid, and so has a strong track record playing on home soil. She would need to finish need to finish in second place or better with Dagar finishing in 11th and below, as well as Cheenglab and Gustavsson finishing fifth and below to take top spot.
With just two events left in the 2023 Race to Costa del Sol, it’s now all to play for with the top three players receiving a bonus pool and the top 10 given the opportunity to tee up at the Final Stage of LPGA Q-Series. The full standings can be found here.
Gainer looking to end the season on a high in Spain
Back from injury and back in form, England’s Cara Gainer is targeting a strong finish to the season in Spain beginning with this week’s Mallorca Ladies Golf Open.
The 28-year-old has been one of the standout players on the Ladies European Tour (LET) in 2023, recording three top-five finishes and consistently ranking inside the top-15 on the Race to Costa del Sol. Read more here.
LET heads to Mallorca for first time in history
As the Race to Costa del Sol draws towards its dramatic conclusion, the elite of the Ladies European Tour (LET) will compete for the inaugural Mallorca Ladies Golf Open this week in the penultimate event of the 2023 season.
Taking place between 16-18 November, the event marks the first professional women’s tournament of this level on the island, representing a significant milestone for both sports promotion and for Mallorca.
The Mallorca Ladies Golf Open will take place at the challenging Golf Son Muntaner course over 54 holes, with no cut, offering a prize pool of €400,000. Read more here.