The Ladies European Tour’s Lalla Aicha Tour School Final Qualifier begins on Friday, December 18 and concludes on Tuesday, December 22 at Amelkis Golf Club & Samanah Country Club in Marrakech, named in honour of HRH the Late Princess Lalla Aicha of Morocco.
Each player will compete on the two courses alternately for the first four rounds, followed by a cut to the top 60 players and ties after 72 holes before the final round (18 holes) is played at Samanah Country Club.
There are 115 players from 35 countries in the field competing for Membership on the 2016 Ladies European Tour. The top 30 and ties will earn Membership in Category 8, while those who make the cut and finish in positions 31 and below will be eligible for Membership in Category 9b. Players who fail to make the cut may join the LET with Membership in Category 12a, although will have a limited number of playing opportunities. In layman’s terms, this means that those in Category 8 will earn their ‘full card” while those in 9b have a “conditional card.”
Last year, Nanna Koerstz Madsen from Denmark earned medallist honours at the Final Qualifier, with a total of 343, 17-under-par, for a two stroke margin of victory. The 20-year-old went on to achieve ninth position on the 2015 Ladies European Tour Order of Merit, with six top 10 finishes, including her season best result of third in New Zealand. England’s Georgia Hall, who was second at last year’s Final Qualifier, went on to finish 32nd on the 2015 Order of Merit. Meanwhile, Emily Kristine Pedersen from Denmark finished fourth at Lalla Aicha Tour School and then won the Hero Women’s Indian Open in her first year on Tour, ending sixth on the LET Order of Merit and clinching the 2015 Rookie of the Year Award. The success of these prodigious young talents is a clear indicator of the ever-improving standard of play on the Ladies European Tour and this year’s field is equally impressive, with three of the world’s top ranked amateurs competing.
Potentially the next big star in women’s golf, the Californian is only 17 years old and her length off the tee and the quality of her ball striking has been remarked upon by several of the players who have seen her practise on the course and driving range. A member of the victorious United States 2015 PING Junior Solheim Cup Team in Germany, Yin is currently ranked seventh on the World Amateur Golf Ranking. She said: “I just wanted to take my game to the next level and try something new, so I decided to come to Europe. It’s my first time in Morocco, but I played in the Junior Solheim Cup in September so I got to go to Germany, which was really nice.”
The 21-year-old from Majorca, who is 10th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, won this year’s European Amateur Championship. She also tied for 13th in the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry, where she won the Smyth Salver awarded to the leading amateur and could follow in the footsteps of previous Smyth Salver winners such as Rebecca Hudson, Michelle Wie, Melissa Reid, Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall, now that she had almost finished her business degree in Madrid. She said: “My objective is to get my card and I think the two courses are very different. The Samanah is short but the Amelkis has more slopes and the wind. I think Amelkis is easier and more fun, but it’s a five round tournament. I think the tournament will be won on the greens.”
The only Indian to have played in the Asian Youth Games (2013) and Youth Olympic Games (2014), Ashok has won 15 international titles including the 2015 St. Rule Trophy and Ladies British Amateur Open Stroke Play Championship. She has won two professional Women’s Golf Association of India (WGAI) titles, including being the youngest winner of a WGAI professional tournament in 2011 at 13 years 5 months. She has already played in seven Ladies European Tour events as an amateur, notably finishing as the low amateur three times in the Hero Women’s Indian Open in 2012, 2014 and 2015 at T8th, T14th and T13th respectively. She has played in five Indian Opens, this year’s Sanya Ladies Open and was also the first Indian amateur to play in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters last year where she finished 38th. Currently ranked 13th on the World Golf Amateur Ranking, Aditi said: “I’ve played a lot of LET events before but this is my first Q School so I’m looking forward to it. I’m just going to enjoy it and play my game, that’s all I can do. My objective is to try and play like at any other golf tournament and give myself a chance of finishing at the top.”
OF NOTE: Charlotte Thompson’s boyfriend, Matthew Southgate, who recently qualified for the European Tour, is acting as her caddie this week and the English pair are hoping to do the double by earning their tour cards. Southgate made headlines when he overcame testicular cancer to finish sixth out of more than 150 players at Spain’s PGA Catalunya Resort in November.
There are 115 players from 35 nationalities represented at the Final Stage of Lalla Aicha Tour School, with the number of players from each country as follows:
Czech Republic: 2
South Africa: 1
Chinese Taipei: 1