Golfing stars of the future will return to Stoke by Nayland later in the year to contest the WPGA International Challenge.Hannah Ralph won the inaugural tournament 12 months ago and organisers expect another strong field with a minimum prize fund of €30,000 at stake in the tournament which will be staged from October 16-18.The 54-hole event is part of the Ladies European Tour Access Series (LETAS) and was launched last year by The PGA to increase support of the women’s game.
|Hannah Ralph, 2013 WPGA International Challenge winner|
It will be the only LETAS event to be staged in the UK in 2014 and there will be 108 competitors including 15 WPGA members, comprising winners from the WPGA’s One Day Series and the remaining places secured via a qualifying Order of Merit over the same period.In a boost for leading amateurs, 15 places have also been earmarked for England Golf, recognising LETAS’s commitment to providing an important link between elite amateur and professional golf.The tournament will conclude a busy year for the Suffolk resort of Stoke by Nayland whose Gainsborough course is also hosting the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship in June.Di Barnard, tour director of the LET Access Series said: “We are delighted the 2014 WPGA International Challenge will be played at Stoke by Nayland Hotel Golf and Spa. “The event receives great support from the PGA and England Golf and is a very important stop on the LETAS schedule, as a large part of the membership hails from the UK.“The Gainsborough course at Stoke by Nayland is a wonderful test for the players and we look forward to welcoming everyone to the tournament in October.”PGA head of tournaments, Simon Higginbottom, commented: “The Access Tour offers an invaluable opportunity for aspiring pros looking to break through to the top level of golf and after the success of last year we’re delighted to be returning to Stoke by Nayland. “The event is also a high quality playing opportunity to members of the WPGA and this is something that we strive to do.”The opportunity for England’s leading women amateurs to get valuable experience has been praised by Nigel Edwards, performance director at England Golf.He said: “England Golf is delighted to be a partner with the LET Access Tour. The Access Tour provides a valuable opportunity for our top players as they progress from their amateur career by providing entry to competitive professional events.”