By Matt Smith
Dubai youngster Chiara Noja clinched the Aramco Team Series finale at Royal Greens & Country Club in dramatic fashion on Saturday as she defeated Charley Hull on the second playoff hole.

The 16-year-old German, who is still studying for her GCSEs, kept her cool to pick up the winner’s cheque for $75,000 and a two-year LET exemption, and the tears poured as she embraced her dad Tom on the 18th hole.

For the second time in two days, Noja had to scramble to save par on 18 — this time finding two bunkers rather than the water — thanks to some sensational putting, and no little steely nerves.

Noja signed for a sensational seven-under 65 on Saturday as she worked her way to the top of the leaderboard, eradicating bogeys on eight and 17 with seven birdies and two eagles for a 13-under total.

That par on the last meant she had a nervy wait as Hull had still to finish her round, but the English star similarly could only par the last, and they were soon back up to the 18th tee for a playoff.

In only her ninth Ladies European Tour event, Noja found no trouble on the 18th this time around as a perfect tee shot and approach forced Hull to show why she is one of the best on tour — and Noja’s idol at only 26 — with a great scramble to match Noja’s birdie.

On the second playoff hole, it was almost a carbon copy for Noja, while Hull found trouble in the soft rough surrounding the water. A flier was the result and it almost went straight in the hole before skipping off the back of the green to leave a tough uphill chip with little green to work with. Hull could not quite work her magic and a simple tap-in crowned this newest, young LET and Aramco champion.

“I knew I had to go low today to have a chance of a look at win,” Noja told Golf Digest Middle East. “I got off to a pretty good start, with a few birdies. It was pretty windy again, which makes it tough especially on six and 15 into the wind, but I am so pleased with how I played and managed to keep myself together.

“In normal play, I got a little unlucky on 18 with the ball plugged in the bunker. I hit that first one pretty good but I misjudged how soft it would come out. I wasn’t stressed with the second and I could trust my short game right now.

“In the playoff, I had nothing to lose. Dad said and Chris (Murphy, my caddie) said to just keep breathing and I just did that. Tried to stay comfortable and, I guess that’s the secret!

“This has been simply an amazing week, and I still can’t quite believe it. Charley is an idol of mine, I have always admired her and I still will. But to win here, especially at Royal Greens, which I love, is so special and I can’t wait for the next time.”

Once he had gathered himself, dad Tom added. “It will be tough for her to go back to school as a 16-year-old and now like a celebrity,” he told Golf Digest Middle East. “She will get her head down for studies now and switch back into school mode.”

The team event also went to a playoff, where team Nicole Garcia defeated Team Christine Wolf thanks to a Casandra Alexander birdie on the first extra hole, after both teams finished on 29-under.

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