Finland’s female Olympic golf hopefuls Ursula Wikstrom and Noora Tamminen are targeting a podium finish in the World Ladies Championship, which gets under way from Thursday.
The pair combined for fifth place in the team event last year at Mission Hills Haikou Resort, where it was held for four years. The event has now moved to the Olazabal Course at Mission Hills Resort in Dongguan.
The individual tournament is played over 72-holes of strokeplay, while the scores of the top pairs from different countries are combined for the team result.
Wikstrom also finished fifth in last year’s individual competition and she said: “Noora and I really feel that we have a great shot at the team title this time, as we played so well together in last year’s World Ladies Championship in Haikou. We are going to China to play well and will bounce off each other’s energy. If one of us sees the other’s name on the leader board it will give us a great boost so we are really looking forward to the challenge.”
While Wikstrom has only played in one Ladies European Tour tournament so far this year, the RACV Ladies Masters in Australia, where she ended 51st, Tamminen will begin her 2016 season in China.
She is hoping to get off to a fast start and said: “I really enjoyed partnering Ursula last time and we always have great fun at Mission Hills. This is an important year for us as we are also both aiming to represent Finland in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as well, but there is a lot of golf to play so we are not taking anything for granted. This is an important event where you just have to play your best as an individual and try to get your team up on that leader board.”
The make-up of the 126-woman World Ladies Championship field includes 40 players from each of the Ladies European Tour, China LPGA Tour and Korean LPGA Tour as determined by their 2016 Exemption List as well as six invited players.
The format is 72 holes of stroke play, with individual players competing for the US$700,000 prize fund. The top world-ranked two players from each country as of 1st January will compete for the team prize fund of US$100,000, using combined stroke play scores.
First played in 2012, the list of former champions reads like a who’s who of women’s golf, with great names such as Shanshan Feng, Suzann Pettersen, Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu having lifted the individual trophy. Feng led China to victory in the inaugural team competition but Korea has dominated the last three years.