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Salonen Holds On At Konopiště For First Major Victory


Eighteen-year-old Eveliina Salonen is the first European player to win a PDGA Major since 2010. Photo: Eino Ansio

Eveliina Salonen built a six-shot lead after two rounds of the Konopiště Open. After round three, that cushion was down to three.

She needed every one of those strokes Sunday, as she held off a fierce charge from fellow Finn Henna Blomroos and ended up with her first career PDGA Major title.

Salonen’s final round 1-under par 66 brought her four-day total in the Czech Republic to a 1-under par 267, netting the 18-year-old the most significant victory of her young career. Blomroos went down swinging with a 3-under par 64 that resulted in an even-par 268 for second place.

Salonen is the first European player to win a PDGA Major since 2010, when Sweden’s Birgitta Lagerholm took down the Scandinavian Open. Salonen took home $1,870 in prize money, while Blomroos pocketed $1,169.

The final was close from the start, as Blomroos shaved a shot off Salonen’s lead with a green hit for birdie on hole 1. She gave it back with a bogey on 2, though, while Salonen went bogey-birdie on holes 3 and 4 as the duo played ping-pong on the scoreboard.

Salonen moved the gap up to five with a birdie to start off the back nine, then the pair shared bogeys on the par-4 12th, a 201-meter hole with a water carry that played as the tournament’s most difficult. From there, Blomroos went off: The 18-year-old hit the green and connected for birdies on four of the last six holes, while Salonen parred out. That early margin was just enough to secure the win.

Even as the affair got tight toward the finish, Salonen, who is also the reigning European Champion, kept her poise. “I was a little bit nervous,” she said. “But I decided [to] play my own game.”

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Henna Blomroos made a late-round push, but still finished in second place. Photo: Eino Ansio

Blomroos, meanwhile, couldn’t believe the scoreboard had tipped so far in her favor.

“On last holes, when the gap tightened, I realized I still have a chance to win,” she said. “Coming to hole 17, I was only two behind. I was actually really surprised to see us so close to each other. I was more concerned about Catrina because she was playing well.”

Indeed, Catrina Allen matched Salonen’s round score with a 1-under par finish to hold onto her third place overall standing at 7-over. The lone American player to make the cut to Sunday’s final, Allen recovered from an early run of bogeys with four consecutive birdies to close the front nine. Estonian pro Kristin Tattar finished in fourth place with a 16-over par 284 for the tournament, while Hannele Määttä’s 24-over par 292 put three Finns in the top 5.

The two at the top have been a bright light for European disc golf. Blomroos and Salonen are first and second in their home country, respectively, based on player rating, while Salonen got the nod as the No. 1 ranked European player at the end of 2017. Their closeness on the course, meanwhile, is mirrored off of it.

“Past two years have been very interesting to travel with Eveliina,” Blomroos said. “We always end up in funny situations during our travels. We help each other during the practice rounds to build our playbook. We have very similar abilities to throw, which helps us both to brainstorm and try to beat the course together.”

“We are so good friends,” Salonen said. “It’s nice to see how we are both getting better to play disc golf.”

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