I just finished my practicum. Under almost tropical conditions, Anne Van Dam (27) played the first nine holes of the third edition of the Dutch Golf Championship on the Ladies European Tour (LET).
“It’s great to be here, to finally be able to play in front of family and friends. I’m really looking forward to it. “It’s the nicest thing ever,” says the European number 13. “I think 2015 or 2016 is the year I played It’s my last tournament in the Netherlands.”
It will be the first participation in the Big Green Egg Open for Van Damme, who has had to lose the past two years because the home tournament did not fit into her playing schedule. At the time, Van Damme, who lives in the United States, was still playing golf at the LPGA, Top Player’s Paradise.
After losing her tourist card, she is trying to make her way back across the European circuit. There it is easier for the long hitter—Van Dam hits the ball farther than many male professional players—to rack up the points he so badly needs. “Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped in America, but that means I now have other options.”
Revenge in games
With five wins on the European Tour over the past nine years as a professional golfer, she is considered a pioneer of Dutch golf. The federation is very hopeful that its achievements will inspire young girls to learn about the sport.
On the beautiful forest track in Hilversumsch, Van Damme starts Friday as the favorite for the final win on Sunday afternoon. Then she has to deal with defending champion Anna Nordqvist, the Swedish world champion. Van Damme: “Expectations are high, but they are always high for me too. Despite the extra pace with all kinds of commitments, I try to prepare as I would for any other tournament. But yeah, of course this is a different event and everyone hopes I win. Me too naturally.”
Van Damme set two goals on the horizon, both of which must be achieved next year: participation in the prestigious Solheim Cup (the confrontation between the best European and American players) and the Olympic Games in Paris. “These are my big goals that I’m playing for now and I hope to qualify,” says Van Dam.
In Paris, she wants to significantly improve her first Olympic performance. In Tokyo, Van Damme had the honor of being the first Dutch female golfer ever to compete in the Olympics, but from a sporting point of view her participation was a huge disappointment. Van Dam almost anonymously finished in the back.
Financial bad luck twice
But first the Dutch Women’s Open, where the prize money was increased by twenty percent to 300,000 euros. Will the grand prize go to Van Damme? The model is doing well these weeks.
In Ireland, they were at the top of the leaderboard for a long time, but the decision had to be made via a play-off on the final day. On a golf cart on its way to the tee, its driver got caught on a rope, fracturing his head. And the video showing how it happened went around the world.
This was the second instance of financial misfortune that had befallen her, for her golf club had also broken on her way to Ireland. However, she miraculously managed to score a birdie (one stroke under par, ed.), but her Danish opponent Smila Tarning-Sunderby needed one stroke less to play the hole.
It ended that misery, says Van Damme in the run-up to the tournament. “Not winning always hurts, the way it happened was very painful. But you can’t get stuck in that for too long. What I’m left with is that I’m in good shape. I’m going to take that with me to the Women’s Open.”
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