As Moroccan Ines Laklalech was working on a 6-under, 66 in round seven of LPGA Q-Series, her beloved Atlas Lions, the Moroccan national soccer team, were making history in the World Cup, defeating Portugal 1-0 in the quarterfinals to become the first-ever African and Arab team to make it to the World Cup semifinals.
The long-time soccer fan was overjoyed with the news and her scorecard showed it as she carded eight birdies on Saturday, including back-to-back birdies on both the 7th and 8th and 10th and 11th holes as well as four consecutive birdies from No. 15 to No. 18. The 25-year-old says that while she’s of course been paying close attention to the Lions’ games, what’s stuck out to her most is how the Moroccan national coach is talking about the team and their incredible run in the World Cup, something that’s inspired her throughout her time in Lower Alabama.
“I’m a big fan of the Moroccan National Team, so I’m super, super happy. I’m going to be watching the game right now. I have to see how it went. But it definitely gave me an extra boost today on the course,” said Laklalech. “I’ve been watching very closely what the national coach is saying about the team because it’s history. And his words really gave me confidence that everything is possible because that’s their mindset right now. I think it’s all connected and related because I’ve been watching videos of the press conferences every single day.”
But while all this success may be new for the Lions, Laklalech isn’t a stranger to making history. In September, she won the Lacoste Ladies Open de France on the Ladies European Tour (LET) in a playoff over Meghan MacLaren, becoming that Tour’s first Moroccan, Arab and North African winner. She also finished in the top 10 four additional times this season on the LET. Now, with 18 holes left to play at Highland Oaks in Dothan, Ala. and currently sitting in a tie for 8th at -20, she’s in prime position to secure LPGA Tour Membership for the 2023 season, an achievement Laklalech is trying not to think too much about until her final putt is holed on Sunday.
“I just see it in general that we’re playing 18 times eight, which is a lot. I’m not seeing it round by round, but we’re just playing a lot of holes,” said Laklalech, who has played all three stages of LPGA Qualifying. “It’s a marathon, so I think it’s whoever stays patient the most and is just keeping hope that everything is going to be fine. I;m very excited to be not too far from the first player so I’m just going to keep doing my thing, playing shot by shot.”
Source : LPGA