*Klára Spilková celebrates at the KPMG Women’s Irish Open in 2022 (Image: Mark Runnacles/LET)

REIGNING WOMEN’S Irish Open Champion Klára Spilková has said it would be “amazing” to retain the title.

Klára returns to Co Clare for the first time since walking away victorious at last year’s Irish Open when she won her second LET, prevailing in a playoff over Dane Nicole Broch Estrup and Finland’s Ursula Wikström in dramatic fashion after making an incredible up-and-down par save on 17 whilst ankle deep in the hazard.

Returning to Dromoland Castle has lifted the spirits of the Czech Republic professional. “I was on the back nine today and it was like a flashback, I remember every single shot, I was almost getting emotional out there, it is nice to be back, I’ve all these amazing memories, the course is in great shape, everybody is very friendly and hospitable”.

30,000 people attended the 2022 event and such a figure would be broadly welcomed again. “I’m very excited, it will be very nice to go out there and do my best in front of the Irish fans and Irish people because they know golf and the sport which is amazing how they value it, I’m excited to go out there and play”.

“The thing about Irish fans is that they know when to clap, the Czech fans clap when you hit a bad shot, I feel like in Ireland they know what is a good and bad shot. I feel like the expectation is always going to be higher and a good deal more pressure but it is how it is, you care and you want to do good and accept the way it is, if there is more pressure then that is okay, we know how to deal with the pressure. If you want to be one of the best in the world then you need to know how to deal with the pressure”.

On the potential of tasting victory on Irish soil again, Klára stated, “It would be amazing, I do have great memories from here and I feel very comfortable here, I won’t put too much pressure on myself and just try my best”.

Recalling her journey to victory last September, the twenty eight year old recounted, “Some of the holes are pretty tricky, it was just accepting the way it was and staying strong mentally in the play/off between the three of us, I stayed strong and felt it was there for me and it was. Hit good shots, stay strong mentally and try to enjoy it as much as you can”.

She continued, “The third round wasn’t the greatest, I didn’t play really well but I remember making a birdie on the sixth and that is where everything felt good again, I stayed in the moment even the shot in the water, there is a lot of water there this year, I remember being very present and enjoying every moment, trying to hit good shots”.

Her famous shot on the seventeenth hole saw her take her shoes and socks off to shoot from the mud. “The mud wasn’t cold, it was just gross. I wanted to hit somewhere on the green and maybe eagle or birdie the last hole, I got to make par which was really good and I had to make a birdie on the last hole and I did. I’ll never forget it”.

To date this year, she has recorded seven top ten finishes which has boosted her confidence. “I’m feeling really good, I know I can win again which is great, it has been a pretty long year but very busy especially this summer stretch, I’m starting to feel it mentally and physically”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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