62, playoff birdie give Hull first LET win

Charley Hull earned her first Ladies European Tour win at the 2014 Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco and could soon earn LPGA sponsor exemptions (shown here during the 2014 Ladies Australian Masters).

Charley Hull’s sensational first professional win could be good and bad news for the Ladies European Tour.

Hull returned a closing 9-under-par 62 in the final round of the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco. She missed a 10-foot putt on the last hole for a 61, which would have tied the lead with Gwladys Nocera at 16-under. However, the French player three-putted the last to find herself in a playoff after the pair tied on 15-under.

Hull, who began the day five shots behind Nocera, won at the first hole of a sudden-death playoff when she holed a 4-foot birdie putt.

“I shot nine under today which is pretty good,” Hull said. “I thought I had it on the last on my actual 18th hole and it just missed. Then making birdie in the playoff to win it; my hands were shaking like mad. I had a putt from 4 feet in the Solheim down the last against Paula (Creamer) and Lexi (Thompson). I had the same there to win and I did it. I feel like I’m a good putter under pressure now.

“With three holes to play I finished birdie, birdie, par and nearly birdied the last hole. So it just slipped away. I never backed down and I got there. I got my first win while I was still 17. I’m 18 next week so I’m really happy.”

It’s the first of many wins for the member of Woburn Golf Club, Ian Poulter’s home club. How many of those wins will come on the LET, as opposed to the LPGA Tour, is the big question.

Hull is arguably the most marketable player the LET has right now. She’s the best prospect to come along in years, and the LET has taken every opportunity to sing her praises.

Hull’s victory earns her a two-year LET exemption. That might spell bad news for the LET.

With no worries about her status in Europe for two years, the teenager is free to try to make the most of her LPGA Tour starts this year. Hull entered LPGA Q-School last year but withdrew at the last minute. She told Golfweek last year she wasn’t quite ready to commit to life in America at this stage in her life. Besides, she felt she would get enough invites to earn her card that way without having to go to Q-School, and was content to play mostly on the LET.

Hull’s Moroccan win will only enhance her chances of the maximum number of sponsor’s invitations on this year’s LPGA. She’s good enough to earn her card on this year’s LPGA that way.

Hull’s appearances in America have been successful. She was the star of last year’s Solheim Cup, helping Europe to victory. Before that she won as an amateur on the Orange Blossom Tour, triumphing in the 2012 Harder Hall Women's Invitational. She practices in the winter at The Concession in Bradenton, Fla.

Don’t be surprised if in the future Hull takes a liking to American life, and decides to spend most of her time there with limited starts in Europe. The LET will be hoping she remains loyal to the European circuit for as long as possible.

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