Albane Valenzuela in 15th place in Florida

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With a flawless final round of 64 strokes (6 under par), Albane Valenzuela ranked 15th at the Pelican Women's Championship in Florida. The 23-year-old thus moved into the top 80 in the LPGA Tour's annual ranking.

The LPGA Tour has returned to Florida for the final two tournaments of the 2021 season. Last week, the Pelican Women's Championship, which is endowed with 1.75 million US dollars, was on the agenda in Belleair - around 30 kilometres west of Tampa. It was played from 11 to 14 November on the par-70 course of the (private) Pelican Golf Club. The world's best proettes were at the start; among the 109 participants was also a Swiss player, Albane Valenzuela. And on Monday morning, Valenzuela drew a positive balance: "I have worked hard on some swing changes in the last three weeks and now, for the first time this season, I had the feeling that I really hit the ball well - and that I could rely on my driver and my irons." Still, she is not entirely satisfied: "I missed a lot of putts this week. If those had fallen, I could have competed for the win." Overall, however, she is very pleased with the development of her game, says the Geneva native. Incidentally, the victory in Florida was secured by world number one Nelly Korda with a birdie in the play-off - the American holed out from just under seven metres.

Four rounds under par

Albane Valenzuela had started the season well on the LPGA, but had never been able to fully realise her potential in recent months and often had to admit in frustration after a tournament that not much was missing to play at the top. The 23-year-old now provided proof of this at the second-last tournament of the season; at the Pelican Women's Championship, the Geneva native stayed below the course standard in all four tournament rounds and moved up to 15th place with a brilliant and flawless final round.

Valenzuela had started the tournament with a card of 69 (1-under par), although the statistics for this round suggest that the Swiss had struggled: Although she hit 12 of the 14 fairways, she hit nine greens "in regulation". She kept her score together with 26 putts. Albane Valenzuela also missed her only shot into a greenside bunker in the opening round - the sand save was successful. On the second day, the Geneva native carded a 68 to easily make the cut. With another 69 on Saturday, Valenzuela did not improve significantly in the intermediate rankings. She started the final round from 41st place - and thus from the 10th tee.

On Sunday, however, the Geneva native really turned up the heat, remaining flawless and bogey-free in this final round and making up a lot of ground with three birdies on the back nine already at the halfway point of the round. Another birdie on hole 1 (Valenzuela's tenth hole of the day) and an eagle on the par 4 number 8 brought the Geneva player to 6 under par for the round and 10 under par for the tournament. This meant a massive jump up the leaderboard to 15th place.

The statistics for Valenzuela's fourth round were also impressive: 12 of 14 fairways hit, only four greens missed, 26 putts and an average drilled length of 287 metres! (Calculated over the four rounds, her average driving length at this tournament was 241 metres).

Valuable points for the annual ranking

This 15th place in Florida shortly before the end of the season is all the more valuable as it earns Albane Valenzuela valuable points for the annual ranking. The Geneva player had slipped out of the top 80 at the tournament in Korea; in Florida she has now fought her way back up to 79th place. A top-80 finish at the end of the season gives her unlimited playing rights on the world's best-paid women's golf tour for the coming year. However, only the top 60 in the current rankings will play in this week's season finale.

A small, pleasant "side story" to Albane Valenzuela's successful performance at the Pelican Women's Championship: The organisers donate 50 dollars per birdie played to the maternity ward of the local hospital as part of the "Birdies for Babies" charity. Albane Valenzuela recorded 13 birdies and one eagle in the four rounds of the tournament - which should bring in at least 700 US dollars.

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