There is excitement in the air at Samanah Golf Club in Marrakech today as 67 competitors from 29 different countries vie for Ladies European Tour Membership in 2016.
From a starting total of 241 players competing over five weeks of the Lalla Aicha Tour School, including a record four Pre-Qualifiers, the top 30 players and those tied at the end of today’s fifth and final round of Final Qualifying will earn Membership in Category 8, which in layman’s terms, means earning a ‘full card’. The remainder of the field will have the opportunity to take Membership in Category 9b. After four rounds, a 72-hole score of 286, two under par, was tied for 30th place.
Scoring at this year’s Lalla Aicha Tour School has been exceptionally low, highlighting the quality of the talent coming onto the Ladies European Tour.
After four rounds played on the Samanah and Amelkis courses alternately, Germany’s Karolin Lampert held a one stroke lead at 22 under par, which was five strokes lower than the 90-hole total posted by Nanna Koerstz Madsen when she won after playing at Samanah and Al Maaden last year, despite her sensational 63 at Samanah in the final round.
That 18-hole score was bettered this year by Aditi Ashok, the 17-year-old amateur who shot a new women’s course record 62 (-10) including 11 birdies and one bogey in the third round at Samanah, which equalled the men’s professional course record. The Bangalore high school student, who hopes to represent India at next year’s Olympic Games, started the final round just one stroke behind Lampert, who won the Azores Ladies Open on the LET Access Series in October.
The quality of golf was further highlighted by another course record equalling round of eight under par 64 by Finland’s Linda Henriksson in the fourth round at Amelkis, who propelled herself from 83rd to tied 26th therefore making the cut with a realistic chance of a top ten.
Another former LET Access Series winner, Daisy Nielsen from Denmark, is playing with Lampert and Ashok in the last group and she has been inspired by the performances of her compatriots Nicole Broch Larsen, Emily Kristine Pedersen and Madsen, on the LET in 2015.
However local player Maha Haddioui, who started the day tied for 18th position on six under par, is expected to have the largest gallery of spectators as she carries Moroccan hopes towards the Olympic Games in August.
Today’s final round will be critical in determining how many tournaments can be played and therefore how many Ranking Points can be earned by a LET Member in 2016 before the cut-off date for the Olympic Games on July 11.