|European Solheim Cup Team member Carlota Ciganda|
The first round of the LACOSTE Ladies Open de France is under way on a cool and misty morning at Chantaco Golf Club in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Aquitaine.
Among the main groups to follow, French No. 1 Karine Icher will start at 12.15 pm with Carlota Ciganda and Charley Hull, while Gwladys Nocera will tee off a little earlier at 11.55 am with Azahara Munoz and Lee-Anne Pace.
The stage is set. As witnessed by golfers and guests in the Richard Mille pro-am, the Chantaco course is in perfect shape. With an almost summer weather forecast until the end of the week, all the conditions are gathered for a superb 2013 edition of the Lacoste Ladies Open de France.
After young French amateur Lauralie Migneaux, the first marquee group tees off at 11:55. Current European No. 4 Gwladys Nocera from France will be paired with Solheim Cup winners Carlota Ciganda from Spain and England’s Charley Hull. Local hope Anne-Lise Caudal, who took fifth place in her native Basque country last year, will play alongside 2012 champion Stacey Keating from Australia and Swede Mikaela Parmlid. At 12.15 pm finally, French No. 1 Karine Icher will share the stage with her Solheim Cup teammate Azahara Muñoz from Spain and South African Lee-Anne Pace.
There are five members of the victorious European Solheim Cup Team from Colorado in the field, with French No1 Karine Icher, Spanish duo Carlota Ciganda and Azahara Munoz, England’s Charley Hull and assistant captain Carin Koch from Sweden.
Ciganda feels at home here, not far across the border from her native Pamplona in northern Spain.
The 2013 UniCredit Ladies German Open champion said: “I think is a fun course to play, different holes where you can make birdies if you hole putts. I played a few times, and I love the area, Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Biarritz are beautiful places.
“I have great memories from last year: big crowds, everyone really nice. I am looking forward to the tournament. I have been relaxing and resting, because I played for six weeks in a row…so I wanted to take a break, but I feel ready to be in contention over the weekend!”
Australian Stacey Keating is defending the title she won 12 months ago at the same venue but says she feels little pressure to repeat the performance, which included an eight-under-par 62 in the first round.