Riikka Hakkarainen

Another player who has definitely settled in after eight competitive seasons is Finnish player Riikka Hakkarainen, who is keen to make it two wins in a row after claiming her first victory at the Tenerife Ladies Open.

“It would be nice to have a Spanish double, but I would settle for a top ten; that’s realistic,” said the Finn, who has spent three winters practicing on this week’s course.

“Panoramica feels like a home course to me. At Abama the greens were extremely tough, so to come here is almost a relief. The greens here are good but not quite as demanding.”

Hakkarainen should know. Amongst her fellow competitors she is considered one of the most solid and consistent putters on the Tour.

Mianne Bagger, who made headlines last year after becoming the first known transsexual woman to compete on a professional golf Tour, is competing on an invitation at this week’s Open, after she lost her full Tour card after an indifferent performance last season.

She will have to rely on further invitations to play in tournaments throughout 2006, but was in a chipper mood heading into this week’s tournament: “It took me all season to make a cut last year but I made the cut in the ANZ Ladies Masters in February so it was a good start to the year.”

She added: “I don’t have the media focus on me this year which is nice and its allowing me to focus purely on my game. I just want to keep up tournament play and if I have to go to Q School then so be it. But if I can get far enough up the ranking early in the year by playing on invitations to improve on my current category then that would be ideal.”