(Algarve, Portugal – June 23 2005) Cecilia Ekelundh credited divine intervention for her sensational victory at last year’s Ladies Open of Portugal.

Cecilia Ekelundh last year

Adding to her confidence, are her new clubs, which she has had for one-and-a-half weeks: “I love my new clubs and I particularly like the long irons, from six-iron and up,” she said.

“They fly well and my wedges are also very soft and feel good around the greens, which is great because that’s where I’ve been struggling for a while.

“I’ve been good off the tee but then my approach shots haven’t been leaving me with many birdie putts.”

“The last few tournaments I’ve got to within three putt range instead of birdie range but now I’m going to play more aggressively.”

Ekelundh learned that aggressiveness from her time training with some of Sweden’s top male and female golfers, when she went to Jupiter in Florida with the Swedish national team in January.

Along with fellow Robe di Kappa Ladies European Tour players Asa Gottmo, Linda Wessberg and Catrin Nilsmark, Ekelundh also benefited from training alongside European Tour players Jesper Parnevik and Fredrik Jacobsson.

“Whereas I can play conservatively, those guys are really aggressive and they’ll only ever aim for the pin. They taught me some new shots and it was very inspiring,” Ekelundh admitted.

With her new clubs, mental attitude and a victory behind her, Ekelundh is feeling more mature this year.

On top of this, the body strengthening she has been working on with sports physiotherapist Pierre Johansson for the past three years is showing its rewards.

“The stronger I am, the straighter I hit it,” said Ekelundh, adding, “the strength training gives you extra power in the small movements you make.”

With a hungry young breed of golfer on Tour there are a number of women who can challenge Ekelundh to the crown this week, including Italian Veronica Zorzi.

Zorzi, who won her first professional title in France, is also in the field and experts will point to her as a clear contender. She currently leads the official LET Money list and is in fourth place in The European Solheim Cup team rankings.

Another fiery Italian, Federica Piovano, who won the Siemens Austrian Ladies Golf Open just two weeks previous, will also provide a challenge for the ambitious Swede and the 126 other professionals.

Gwladys Nocera from France enters this week ranked third on the official LET Money List and is poised to win her maiden title. She already has two second place finishes under her belt, after she was beaten in two playoffs at both the Thailand Ladies Open and in Austria.

Ludivine Kreutz, the Tenerife Ladies Open Champion, is fresh off a tied fourth finish at the Arras Open de France Dames alongside fellow country woman Nocera, and is in the groove after a fabulous string of finishes so far this season.

New Zealand’s Lynnette Brooky is also among this week’s headliners and a win this week following two consecutive third places in Italy and France, would be well deserved. She is due for another win after her last victory at the 2003 French Ladies Open and will be looking for her fourth victory on the LET.