|Will Becky hit the big time in 2010?|
1. The battle to win the Henderson Money List:
Last year Sophie Gustafson pipped Catriona Matthew to the title, but who will be the leading money winner in the coming season? After her third place finish on the list in 2009, Becky Brewerton has been tipped for the top spot by leading players in the know. Will she be able to assert herself in her seventh year on the Ladies European Tour? Anna Nordqvist looks set to continue her meteoric rise up the world rankings and may make an impact, but with Nordqvist, Marianne Skarpnord and Tania Elosegui playing a mixed schedule between Europe and the United States, who will step up this season to make their own mark? There are many new faces ready to give it their best shot. Read on to see the prospects for the leading rookie this year.
2. The race to become Ryder Cup Wales Rookie of the Year:
There are several talented rookies who could light up the leader boards and give the seasoned professionals a run for their money in 2010. Some leading players have predicted that Australian Kristie Smith could lift the title come the end of the season. She has just won her first professional title at the Royal Canberra Ladies Classic on the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour and is being hailed as the next major star of Australian women’s golf by those in the know. The talented 21-year-old is the daughter of Australian professional golfer Wayne Smith, but there are several players who could take this title. Another prospect is 23-year-old Spaniard Maria Hernández, the NCAA Player of the Year out of Purdue University in the United States. Scottish teenager Carly Booth, 17, is Britain’s top hope. Great things have been expected of Carly Booth since becoming the youngest ladies’ club champion in Britain at the age of 11 at Dunblane New. Don’t overlook Caroline Masson, who won the LET’s Final Qualifying tournament in December. Anna Nordqvist won this event not 12 months earlier and went on to be crowned 2009 Ryder Cup Wales Rookie of the Year.
|Carly Booth could be one to watch|
3. Anna Nordqvist:
With a momentous rookie year behind her, Anna Nordqvist starts the 2010 season as world no.4 and she could go even further if she sticks to her plan of dominating women’s professional golf. The 22-year-old sensation will have to leapfrog Suzann Pettersen, Jiyai Shin and Lorena Ochoa if she is to capture the world number one spot. She will provide the fiercest threat to Suzann Pettersen in becoming the world’s leading European player. Another year older and wiser, this may be the year when Nordqvist makes her move.
4. The AIB Ladies Irish Open at Killeen Castle:
With the AIB Ladies Irish Open, supported by Failte Ireland, taking place at Killeen Castle in County Meath the week after the Ricoh Women’s British Open, this tournament is guaranteed to attract a high calibre field. It will provide the only opportunity for players from both sides of the Atlantic to test their skills on The 2011 Solheim Cup venue in a competitive environment and expects to draw competitors from all over the world, but especially from America, with prospective members of team USA hoping to gain a sneaky preview of the 2011 course. It’s easy to see why The Solheim Cup promises to be one of the must-see events of 2011. As the biennial contest visits Ireland for the first time, there is no better place in which to stage a European revival as Alison Nicholas and her 12 players carry the hopes of a continent. Killeen Castle will be even better than Barseback in Sweden in 2003, which saw Europe’s third and most recent victory in the transatlantic contest, as the passionate Irish supporters and spectacular venue will give the Europeans all the inspiration they need.
|Alison Nicholas at Killeen Castle|
5. The Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale:
The atmosphere will be electric, the galleries will be packed and the magic of a major championship will be there in abundance as Scotland’s Catriona Matthew MBE attempts to defend the title she won at Royal Lytham and St. Annes 12 months before. Catriona stunned the world of golf and captured the hearts and minds of the nation when she became the first Scot, and the fourth Brit, to claim a women’s major golf championship. It was just 11 weeks after giving birth to her second daughter and three weeks before her 40th birthday. She and her husband Graeme had also escaped a blazing fire at their hotel during the Evian Masters the previous week.
6. New events in New Zealand, Morocco, Slovakia and Scotland:
The LET will be bigger and better in 2010 and with four new events so there’s no excuse not to come out and support your favourite players! The season will start with the inaugural Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open hosted by Christchurch at Pegasus Golf Club from February 25-28. The next new event is the Princess Lalla Meryem Cup at Royal Golf Anfa Mohammedia from March 18-20, which will take place during the same week as the Hassan II Trophy on the men’s European Tour. From May 27-30, the LET will make an historic first visit to Slovakia with the Ladies Slovak Open at Gray Bear Golf Club. Fans will also look forward to a return to Scotland for the Ladies Scottish Open, at Archerfield Links in East Lothian, from August 18-20.
7. The return of Turkey to the schedule:
After a one year hiatus, the LET returns to National Golf Club in Antalya for the Turkish Ladies Open from May 6-9. With luxury resort hotels and five-star service this stop was a favourite with the players when the LET first visited in 2008. That year, Sweden’s Lotta Wahlin dominated the event and won by 12 strokes, having mastered the testing course and the particularly tricky greens. After two years, the players will be ready for the challenge and of course, the perfect sunny weather that the venue enjoys.
8. New Groove Rules:
New Rules on club grooves for elite professional golfers were brought in on 1st January 2010, which means that the players must use clubs which conform to the groove and punch mark specifications in the Rules of Golf. It will be interesting to see if scores are affected or if any of the players have to adapt their games at all. For elite amateurs the Rule will come in from 1st January 2014 and the rest of amateur golfers won’t need to use clubs that meet these specifications until after 2024. Any new club that they buy after 2010 will be made to these specifications anyway. Dr Steve Otto, Director of Research and Testing from The R&A, spoke to the players at the 2009 ABN AMRO Ladies Open and said: “There are two new Rules. One affects the sharpness on the edge of grooves and the other affects the volume of the grooves. There is a new limit coming in defining the sharpness of the edge of the grooves. Increased sharpness allows players to generate more spin from the rough. If there is any element of grass between club and ball they can actually get the same level of spin with today’s grooves from the rough and the fairway. With the new grooves there will be a difference in spin which translates to control and the ability of a player to hold the green from the rough.”
|Omega Dubai Ladies Masterschampion In-Kyung Kim|
9. Exciting new sponsors:
The LET will be introducing several new sponsors over the coming months and has extended its agreements with many more. As women’s golf scales new heights more companies are showing an interest in being associated with the professionals and we will bring news of these business relationships over the coming year.
10.The Omega Dubai Ladies Masters:
With a first class venue, golfing climate and warm hospitality, the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters tournament at Emirates Golf Club in the UAE has become established as a firm favourite with the players and the fans, some of whom fly in from all corners of the globe. With a top quality field, every player knows that holding the trophy aloft would make the perfect ending to the season. There will be storylines aplenty as the leading players and rookies attempt to seal their awards and etch their names into the history books. We will wait to see if Michelle Wie returns after coming a close second to In-Kyung Kim in 2009.