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Manon De Roey makes successful WPGA International Challenge defence


Manon De Roey won the WPGA International Challenge at Stoke by Nayland for the second year running and in doing so brought to mind waiting for a London bus.


Just when all hope of one arriving has been abandoned, two or three turn up in quick succession, which is the case with the 27-year-old Belgian when it comes to winning tournaments.


Her victory at Stoke by Nayland Hotel Golf and Spa 12 months ago was her first as a professional and ended a three-year wait.


Since then she has won two more tournaments: the Santander Golf Tour LETAS Valencia in July and again at the Suffolk resort.


“Once you’ve had your first win you know you can do it,” she said after posting a six-under-par score of 210 for the 54-holes.


“It’s definitely a weight off your shoulders. I won in Spain a couple of months ago and winning here is special because I won here before.”


Her latest conquest of the Gainsborough course, however, lacked the nerve-jangling drama of its predecessor.


That was settled by a sudden-death play-off with Lydia Hall, the defending champion. This time, by contrast, De Roey could afford to bogey the final hole and still claim the €5,600 first prize.


“It’s a tough finishing hole,” she said. “I was a bit short with my tee shot this time even though I used the same club as last year.”


A chip and two putts followed to ensure she finished a shot clear of the trio sharing second place: My Leander of Sweden, Italy’s Lucrezia Colombotto Rosso and Alice Hewson of England.


Hewson, who is coached by Rob Watts, the head PGA pro at Castle Royal Golf Club, Reading, was making her debut as a professional and can reflect on a more than promising start. Doubtless the 22-year-old will also ponder a spurned birdie opportunity at the 15th and a dropped shot at the 18th.


She would not be alone in thinking what might have been, however. Colombotto Rosso, who shared pole position with Rachael Goodall after round one and De Roey following the second, also bogeyed the 18th. Prior to that she had propelled her putter skywards in frustration after missing a birdie putt at the par-five 14th.


Not that De Roey was devoid of wobbles.


“I had a couple of anxious moments,” she admitted. “I bogeyed the ninth, which is another tough par three on this course, and then had a double at the 10th which didn’t help.


“But I got it back on 12. I birdied that and had another birdie on 14. I’m very happy – especially as there was no play-off this time!”


De Roey ’s victory meant she became the first to win the tournament twice since it began seven years ago and, by definition, successfully defend the title.


Now, with another win behind her, she is focusing on retaining her Tour card.


“There are three LET tournaments coming up – starting in Bordeaux next week, then Barcelona, then India,” she added. “Winning here has given me a good feeling for next week.”