The Ladies European Tour returns to Italy this week after a two year absence, to contest the Ladies Italian Open presented by Ruco Line, starting on Friday.
This is the LET’s first visit to Perugia Golf Club, located in central Italy, on a high hilltop bordering Tuscany, Lazio and Marche. The last Italian Open, won by Christina Kim, was staged at Picciolo Golf Club in Sicily in 2011.
The 54-hole stroke play tournament, featuring 125 competitors, takes place on a course which proved a severe test when it hosted the Open Umbria last year on the Alps Tour.
The prize pool is €250,000 of which €37,500 will go to the winner, after a cut to the leading 60 players and those tied after 36 holes.
The field of competitors includes the Swede Sophie Gustafson, with 28 career titles, her compatriot, European Solheim Cup Captain Carin Koch, with four appearances on the European Solheim Cup team and Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord, who won the 2009 event at Le Rovedine Milano.
From the home nation, Diana Luna, Veronica Zorzi, Stefania Croce and Margherita Rigon are strong contenders to become the first Italian winner of the championship. They are joined by Vittoria Valvassori, Anna Rossi, Stefania Avanzo, Elizabetta Bertini, Alessandra Averna, Martina Migliori Trapani and Chiara Brizzolari. There is also the amateur Virginia Elena Carta, 18, with four successes in the international arena since last October.
A confident Sophie Sandolo said: “I have a good feeling and I had it even before the tournament in Slovakia. I just needed to play with more continuity to express it. In this perspective, participation in the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters next week could help me find the right motivation. I played the course and found it very exciting.”
Denmark’s Malene Jorgensen, England’s Felicity Johnson and Sophie Walker, Frenchwomen Anne-Lise Caudal, Cassandra Kirkland and Jade Schaeffer, American Beth Allen, South African Stacy Lee Bregman and Thai players Nontaya Srisawang and Titiya Plucksataporn are all possible contenders.
Other candidates for the title will include English trio Holly Clyburn, Lucy Williams and Rebecca Hudson, Amy Boulden of Wales, Scotland’s Kelsey McDonald, Nicole Garcia of SA, all of whom just returned from the US Women’s Open.
The Ladies Italian Open presented by Ruco Line is promoting the Umbria Region and the Municipality of Perugia, is institutional partners with the Chamber of Commerce, the Italian Golf Federation, the Ladies European Tour and Golf Club Perugia.
Presenting sponsor of the event is Ruco Line, a company that exports Italian fashion all over the world, especially shoes and trainers. Over 25 years old, the brand has created the first-heeled sneaker, which has proved a winner and a great market success.
Additional sponsors and suppliers include the Italian Pro Tour, the circuit of national competitions set up by the Organizing Committee of the Open professional golf FIG, Liomatic and Fabiana Filippi, Sanpaolo Invest, Mullgan & Co, official apparel; Jaguar Land Rover, Rocchetta, official water; Relais Elm, official hotel; Ready Green, Emu and John Deere.
The official charity is the Cystic Fibrosis Research Foundation. There is also a collaboration with Golf Weather. Media partner Sky will ensure that television coverage of the Ladies Italian Open is broadcast to the major television networks in at least 40 countries around the world. On Thursday, the Sanpaolo Invest Pro Am starting at 1.30pm will provide a preview of some of the top players that will be in the main event. They will play in a team with three amateurs over 18 holes with the formula “Par is your friend and amateurs Use Your Pro”. For the ranking, only net birdies, eagles and albatrosses will be recorded.
Other events include Menchetti Happy Hour with DJ sets from 13:30 that will be repeated on the evening of Friday 27 at 20:00.
Also on Friday 27, at 16.30, a golf clinic with the national team will be given by Diana Luna, Stefania Croce, Veronica Zorzi and Margherita Rigon.
On Saturday 28, at 16.30, a ‘Big Sister Event ‘, a challenge between the LET pros and the children of the Federal Course FIG Umbria, will be played on the executive course. For smaller children there is also the initiatives of U.S. Kids, who will be present with a booth over the three days of competition. On Saturday 28 and Sunday 29, young people will be engaged in games on the putting green.
Web and social networks
All about the Ladies Italian Open presented by Ruco Line can be found at www.italianprotour.com. In addition, through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the Italian Pro Tour will bring live updates of the tournament, also through the official hashtag #openyoureyes.