|From left: Victoria Lovelady (BRA), Caroline Martens (NOR), Shi Yu Ting (CHN) and Cheng Ssu-chia（TPE）outside Qingjiao Tzu Chi Palace|
The Ladies European Tour remains in China this week for the inaugural Xiamen Open, which is co-sanctioned with the China LPGA.
A field of 114 players from 21 different countries and regions, including last week’s Sanya Ladies Open winner and runner-up, Xi Yu Lin and Charley Hull respectively, will compete for the title at Orient (Xiamen) Golf & Country Club over three rounds from Friday.
A group of 14 players from both tours took the opportunity to see the beautiful ‘ocean-front garden’ city and its many tourist attractions on Tuesday. Situated next to the water, many scenic views are reminiscent of Lake Geneva and one player commented: “It’s almost like Florida, with the water and skyscrapers; the only reason you know its China is because of the boats.”
|LET members Victoria Lovelady (Brazil), Ellie Givens (England), Chloe Leurquin (Belgium), Patricia Sanz (Spain), Joanna Klatten (France), Caroline Martens (Norway), Stefanie Kirchmayr (Germany) and Fabienne In-Albon (Switzerland) with CLPGA members Shi Yu Ting, Li Zi, Li Dan, Cheng Ssu-chia and Chien Pei-Yun at the Agate stone shop.|
The tourism tour started with a visit to Dong Fu Agate Street, where the players were able to admire the intricate precious stone sculptures.
Next, the players took a bicycle ride at the Dong Fu Xi Shan Da Park Tour, where, despite the warm and tranquil surroundings, it quickly turned into a competitive race.
The players then posed for photographs in traditional costumes of local ‘Hui An’ women at Qingjiao Tzu Chi Palace. Built in 1156, the buildings and statues are a tribute to Bao Sheng Da Di, originally known as Wu Tao: a highly skilled doctor who saved thousands of lives across southern Asia.
After learning about Xiamen’s ancient history, the players moved into the future as they visited Haicang Information Center Experience, which showcased Xiamen’s efforts to become a technologically intelligent city.
In a futuristic building, the players experienced intelligent household, consumption and medical services and then took a rollercoaster ride in a 5D movie theatre.
|Inside the 5D movie theatre at Haicang Information Center Experience|
French Ladies European Tour and LPGA player Joanna Klatten commented: “It’s my first time in Xiamen and it’s very exciting to discover a new city. I beat everyone in the cycle race and it was fun. It’s great to be outdoors in the fresh air in a place you are just discovering.”
Norwegian LET player Caroline Martens added: “It’s great to be here, especially with the temperature and the sun. It’s my first time in Xiamen and very nice. I shall be coming back for sure.”
|Martens and Lovelady at Haicang Information Center Experience|
The Xiamen Open is a further collaboration between the LET and China LPGA Tour and will be held continually as part of a multi-year agreement.
Although Orient (Xiamen) Golf & Country Club is new to the LET players, the course hosted the China Ladies Open for 10 years and most recently the Xiamen Challenge on the CLPGA in August.
There are no former winners in the field, although China’s rising star Shi Yu Ting, 16, tied for fourth place at the venue in the China Ladies Open as a 14-year-old amateur and knows the course well. With 33 Chinese players in the field and China’s rising stature in the world game, the Ladies European Tour players will have to extremely play well to earn the €37,500 first prize in the €250,000 event this week.
|Chinese professional Shi Yu Ting, 16, who finished in tied eighth place at the Sanya Ladies Open last week|