The third tournament of the 2015 LET season takes place in New Zealand this week, with a high quality field of 132 competitors from the LET and ALPG. The championship is being played for the third straight year at Clearwater Golf Club in Christchurch, which also hosted the championship for the first time in 2009, before joining the LET schedule. In the past six years, the championship has played a leading role in the development of women golfers in New Zealand. Here are three reasons to get excited about the action this week.
World No.1 Lydia Ko
Fresh from winning the ISPS HANDA Women’s Australian Open on Sunday, the best woman golfer on the planet will headline the field at a venue where she won two years ago and where she finished second last year, ending just one stroke behind the winner. Lydia, who was the leading amateur as a 12-year-old in 2010, went onto win the title at Clearwater in 2013 to become the first home champion and the youngest winner in the history of the LET aged 15 years, nine months and 17 days. Lydia, 17, is a perfect example of the opportunity this championship has presented. She is one of four former winners in the field along with Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera (2009), England’s Dame Laura Davies (2010) and Australian Kristie Smith (2011). South Korean Mi Hyang Lee has not returned to defend the title, but all have been great winners and the ISPS HANDA NZ Women’s Open has formed a rich and memorable history in a short time.
After winning the RACV Ladies Masters a fortnight ago, Australian Su-Hyun Oh has become a member of the LET and will be playing in the NZ Open. As Oh was not a member of the LET when she won the RACV Ladies Masters, she does not currently appear on the 2015 LET Order of Merit but this could be the week when she makes her entry on the ranking. Su tied for ninth place in the 2013 NZ Open at Clearwater and hopes to improve on that performance. The No.1 ranked World Amateur in October 2013 and the youngest player to ever qualify for the Women’s Australian Open in 2009 at aged 12, Su hopes to be paired with the No.1 professional Lydia Ko.
Leading LET Rookies in the Field
After the first two events of 2015, there are currently four first year LET members on the Omega Rookie of the Year rankings. Last year’s Xiamen Open winner Ssu-Chia Cheng of Chinese Taipei occupies first position after finishing seventh at the RACV Ladies Masters and 33rd at the ISPS HANDA Women’s Australian Open. Norwegian Tonje Daffinrud, Spain’s Marta Sanz and Anne Van Dam of the Netherlands are third, fourth and fifth on the ranking respectively after their finishes in the RACV Ladies Masters on the Gold Coast and all playing in New Zealand after showing promising signs of early form.