Esther Henseleit wins LET order of merit with Kenyan victory

Esther Henseleit with her trophy, a giraffe made from recycled flip-flops gathered from Kenya's beaches, by the company 'Ocean Sole'.

VIPINGO, KENYA – December 8, 2019: Esther Henseleit carded a course record eight under par 64 to win the inaugural Magical Kenya Ladies Open presented by Safaricom’s M-Pesa by one shot and clinch the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit title on a dramatic final day at Vipingo Ridge near Mombasa.

The 20-year-old first-year professional golfer from Hamburg became only the third player in the 41-year history of the Ladies European Tour to capture the Order of Merit and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season, following Dame Laura Davies in 1985 and Carlota Ciganda, in 2012.

Victory saw Henseleit leapfrog Marianne Skarpnord as the European No 1 and become the first German player to win either the Order of Merit or Rookie of the Year titles.

Henseleit posted eight birdies on the Baobab Course at Vipingo Ridge to post a winning total of 14 under par, one better than India’s Aditi Ashok, who shot 65. Overnight leader Julia Engström ended third after a 74.

Henseleit started the day seven strokes behind Engström but quickly made a charge with birdies on the first, fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth holes to get within two of Engström at the turn.

Engström three-putted the 10th as Henseleit birdied the 11th and the pair were tied on 12 under par. Henseleit pulled one stroke ahead with a birdie from six feet on the 13th hole and then went two clear after Engström bogeyed the 13th.

Henseleit added an eighth birdie from four feet at the 15th to move three strokes clear, but saw her lead cut to one as Ashok birdied the 16th and 18th.

Henseleit ended with three pars to ensure her first Ladies European Tour title, following a breakthrough professional win earlier this year on the LET Access Series, in the Skaftö Open.

Henseleit said: “To close the season with a win is the best feeling I could imagine. To be the Order of Merit winner and Rookie of the Year is just unbelievable.

“Yesterday, after my round, I was a bit disappointed but I just tried to do everything better today. I definitely tried to win, although I knew it would be really hard.

“After nine holes, I saw I was two shots back and I knew it was possible.

“I just tried to make a lot of birdies and I hit some great iron shots and gave myself many short birdie putts. The course was beautiful and it played a bit easier today, because the greens were softer. I did the best I could.”

Henseleit, who finished third at LET Qualifying School 12 months ago and turned professional in January with a handicap of +7.1, knew that she needed to win the Magical Kenya Ladies Open to snatch the Order of Merit and she delivered under pressure.

Her season included one win and eight further top-10 finishes, including four second places in the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic, La Reserva de Sotogrande Invitational, Ladies European Thailand Championship and Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open.

She said: “It’s been a great year on the Ladies European Tour. It’s a really friendly tour and it’s been great to travel the world each week with all the other golfers.”

Ladies European Tour Order of Merit winners


Winners of the Order of Merit

1979 Catherine Panton-Lewis

1980 Muriel Thomson

1981 Jenny Lee Smith

1982 Jenny Lee Smith

1983 Muriel Thomson

1984 Dale Reid

1985 Laura Davies

1986 Laura Davies

1987 Dale Reid

1988 Marie-Laure Taya

1989 Marie-Laure de Lorenzi

1990 Trish Johnson

1991 Corinne Dibnah £89,058.00

1992 Laura Davies £66,333.00

1993 Karen Lunn £81,266.00

1994 Liselotte Neumann £102,750.00

1995 Annika Sorenstam £130,324.00

1996 Laura Davies £110,880.00

1997 Alison Nicholas £94,589.00

1998 Helen Alfredsson £125,975.00

1999 Laura Davies £204,522.00

2000 Sophie Gustafson £208,288.00

2001 Raquel Carriedo £160,441.00

2002 Annika Sorenstam €455,567.99

2003 Annika Sorenstam €286,991.24

2004 Annika Sorenstam €368,264.22

2005 Iben Tinning €204,672.62

2006 Laura Davies €471,727.42

2007 Sophie Gustafson €222,081.47

2008 Gwladys Nocera €391,839.58

2009 Sophie Gustafson €281,315.00

2010 Lee-Anne Pace €339,517.77

2011 Ai Miyazato €363,079.68

2012 Carlota Ciganda €251,289.95

2013 Suzann Pettersen €518,448.81

2014 Charley Hull €247,616.69

2015 Shanshan Feng €399,213.41

2016 Beth Allen €313,079.27

2017 Georgia Hall €368,934.60

2018 Georgia Hall €512,101.73 / 667.73 points

2019 Esther Henseleit €208,659.94 / 743.06 points


LET Rookie of the Year Winners


1984 Kitrina Douglas £19,900.00

1985 Laura Davies £21,736.00

1986 Patricia Gonzalez £7,570.00

1987 Trish Johnson £35,718.00

1988 Laurette Maritz £29,362.00

1989 Helen Alfredsson £20,355.00

1990 Pearl Sinn £28,407.00

1991 Helen Wadsworth £17,765.00

1992 Sandrine Mendiburu £26,896.00

1993 Annika Sorenstam £55,927.00

1994 Tracy Hanson £44,205.00

1995 Karrie Webb £90,556.00

1996 Anne-Marie Knight £31,322.00

1997 Anna Berg £19,333.00

1998 Laura Philo £26,574.00

1999 Elaine Ratcliffe £12,146.00

2000 Giulia Sergas £21,335.00

2001 Suzann Pettersen £129,546.00

2002 Kirsty S Taylor €52,903.90

2003 Rebecca Stevenson €70,065.38

2004 Minea Blomqvist €105,020.61

2005 Elisa Serramia €36,366.59

2006 Nikki Garrett €99,445.05

2007 Louise Stahle €79,678.66

2008 Melissa Reid €136,606.00

2009 Anna Nordqvist €100,966.44

2010 In-Kyung Kim €193,194.69

2011 Caroline Hedwall €278,528.87

2012 Carlota Ciganda €251,289.95

2013 Charley Hull €135,994.36

2014 Amy Boulden €83,982.17

2015 Emily Kristine Pedersen €171,688.41

2016 Aditi Ashok €206,664.97

2017 Georgia Hall €368,934.60

2018 Julia Engström €37,385.94 149.15 points

2019 Esther Henseleit €208,659.94 / 743.06 points