Charlotte – Slovenia’s Ana Belac has won the women’s Carolina Classic golf tournament to achieve by far the greatest success for Slovenian golf ever and come very close to making it to the world elite in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).
The 23-year-old Portorož native finished first at the US$200,000 tournament in the Pinehurst resort near Fayetteville, North Carolina, in what is her first season among professional female golfers.
Belac led at the tournament from start to finish, leaving the closest competitor, Allison Emrey of the US, four shots behind.
With the first title for Slovenian golf at professional tournaments, she has taken the second place in the overall rankings of the Symetra Tour, which is the entry point for the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).
Belac’s result is seen as an exceptional achievement in the Symetra Tour, as this was only her eighth tournament among professionals since she finished her studies at Duke University in April.
After Saturday’s win, Belac told the STA that making it to the LPGA Tour was only the first of her career goals, as the final one is to become the best female golfer in the world.
While virtually securing a ticket for the LPGA Tour, where an average prize money for a single tournament is US$2 million, she has also been invited to the US Open championship in Houston in December.
“I wanted to win and I knew I could win. This time I practically played on the home court, on which I have trained a lot with the university, so I was more confident and determined to show what I can do,” Belac added.
One of the three Slovenian women with the status of professional golf player, along Katja Pogačar and Pia Babnik, who mostly play in Europe, was not bothered by the strong wind and rain in the last two days of the tournament.
“Other players were complaining over the conditions in which they had to play, while I enjoyed myself and played my game. The experience from Europe, meaning the bora wind around Lipica, where I started my golf career, certainly helped me.”