Recap of 2015 ahead of next week’s event in the Czech Republic
Last year Hannah Burke became a first-time Ladies European Tour winner at the Tipsport Golf Masters at Golf Park Plzeň in the Czech Republic.
A seven-under-par 64 in the final round gave the Hertfordshire player a 54-hole total of 13-under-par 200 and a two stroke victory over Nicole Broch Larsen.
The Dane held a one stroke advantage when Burke parred the last but it all went horribly wrong as she triple bogeyed the 16th.
Celebrations could begin on the clubhouse terrace for a speechless Burke, who was totally surprised when she heard the news. She had achieved her goal, which was to play the final 18 holes without a bogey. “Seven birdies is a good way to get on top,” she said.
It was also an impressive outing for Swedish rookie Lina Boqvist, who shared third with first round leader Becky Morgan from Wales, as well as Melissa Reid, who ended in a share of fifth to qualify for Carin Koch’s European Solheim Cup team.
The Pilsen Golf Masters has been played at Golf Park Plzeň in the village of Dýšina, near Pilsen, for the past three years and each edition has produced a first time winner from a different country: Ann Kathrin Lindner of Germany (2013), Julie Greciet of France (2014) and Hannah Burke from England (2015).
However, the Ladies European Tour first visited the Czech Republic for the Prague Golf Masters at Albatross Golf Resort in 2011, when Frenchwoman Jade Schaeffer earned her second LET title, followed by Melissa Reid’s triumph in 2012, following the untimely death of her mother.
The 132-player field
The field is led by current Order of Merit leader Beth Allen from California, who is playing in her seventh event of 2016 following two top five finishes, including third place in the recent Buick Championship in China.
She is joined by defending champion Hannah Burke, who said: “I’m very excited to go back to Pilsen and hopefully we’ll get some nice hot weather. It’s a tricky golf course so hopefully I can successfully defend. Anything is possible! We’ll just see how it goes. It’s tricky in spots, particularly on the greens and you have to put the ball in the right position. If you get the putter going then you can usually make quite a few birdies. I hit a lot of fairways and greens so that always helps me out. Narrow courses with small greens are usually what I favour.”
This will be the first appearance of exciting young Spanish rookie Nuria Iturrios since she won the Lalla Meryem Cup in Rabat, Morocco, on only her second start as a professional.
Home favourite Klara Spilkova will play in her fifth tournament of the year, following a tie for 17th in the Buick Championship in China. Her best finish at Golf Park Plzeň was 23rd in 2013, although she finished ninth at Albatross Golf Resort in Prague in 2011.
Other players to watch include Britons Florentyna Parker and Georgia Hall, who are fourth and fifth on the LET Order of Merit respectively, Camilla Lennarth, who is seventh and the young Danes Emily Kristine Pedersen and Nanna Koerstz Madsen, who last year battled for 2015 Rookie of the Year honours and are now competing for a place in the Olympic Games in Rio.
Built in 2003-2004, Golf Park Plzeň is surrounded by agricultural farmland enjoying stunning views across the local area. The winning score on the par 71 layout has traditionally been low, with Ann-Kathrin Linder shooting 12-under (2013) Julie Greciet amassing 17-under (2014) and Hannah Burke reaching 13-under (2015).
Three players share the course record of 62 (-9) – Laura Cabanillas (2013), Anne-Lise Caudal (2014) and Becky Morgan (2015).
The venue also hosted the Pilsen Golf Challenge on the LET Access Series in 2014, when the leading score was seven-under-par.