Gwladys

Gwladys Nocera of France

The 24th edition of the Lacoste Ladies Open de France, which takes places from 2-5 October at the Golf de Chantaco in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, will be a thrilling one. Indeed, 78 Ladies European Tour players will battle for the trophy and the biggest share of the €250,000 prize money. Among the favourites, defending champion Azahara Muñoz of Spain and 2013 runner-up Gwladys Nocera of France will face the challenge of some of Europe’s finest golfers.

For of her third straight Lacoste Ladies Open de France appearance, Azahara Muñoz faces the daunting task of defending the title she won last year at Chantaco. However, the Spaniard will be one of the main candidates to succeed herself, as she ranks fifteenth in the world, higher than anyone else in this week’s field. The current No. 9 on the LPGA Tour, the U.S.-based tour on which she mainly plays, will face a strong challenge from some of the best golfers from the Ladies European Tour. Among them, former European No. 1s Sophie Gustafson of Sweden (crowned in 2000, 03, 07 and 09) and Carlota Ciganda of Spain (crowned in 2012).

As the season’s last event to be held on European soil, before the final home stretch in Asia and the Middle East, the Lacoste Ladies Open de France holds once again a strategic position for the Old Continent players. 2014 tournament winners Charley Hull and Florentyna Parker of England, as well as Frenchwoman Julie Greciet, a Bayonne-born player who will practically play at home, will aim to clinch another title. Don’t count out the experienced Nocera and Australia’s Nikki Campbell, who currently lie fourth and fifth on the Order of Merit, who will look for a strong performance to enhance their chances to top the LET rankings when the season ends.

Aside from Greciet, who lifted her first-ever career trophy last July in the Czech Republic, and 12-time LET champion and 2008 No. 1 Nocera, a handful of French players will look to emulate Stéphanie Arricau, the last French winner on home soil back in 2004. Experienced players such as Anne-Lise Caudal, Jade Schaeffer, Cassandra Kirkland and Caroline Afonso, as well as the young and talented Ariane Provot, Marion Ricordeau, Isabelle Boineau, and amateurs Eva Gilly and Marion Veysseyre.