|Caroline Hedwall: impressive rookie season|
Henderson Rookie Caroline Hedwall stands an outside chance of completing a ‘grand double’ when the rising Swedish star makes her debut at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters to be held under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein at the Emirates Golf Club from December 11 to 17.
Impressive victories at the Ladies Slovak Open and Finnair Masters and a couple of top-10 finishes have already assured the 22-year-old prodigy of the Ladies European Tour’s Rookie of the Year award and, if the script holds good, she could be in contention for the ‘Player of the year’ title as well.
Since the inception of the Ladies European Tour in 1978, only England’s Laura Davies, now a ‘golf in DUBAi’ ambassador, has the distinction of winning both the ‘Rookie of the Year’ and the ‘Player of the Year’ titles, a feat she achieved in her debut season in 1985.
“It would be nice to ice the cake with one final win in Dubai which, who knows, might be good enough to win the Henderson Money List (the official name of the Order of Merit),” said Hedwall, who is currently placed third on the list behind Japan’s Ai Miyazato (euro 363,079) and Melissa Reid of England (euro 196,410) with euro 195,817 in earnings from 14 starts in her first season as a professional on the Ladies European Tour.
“I strongly believe in destiny. If it has to happen, it will happen. I am not putting any extra pressure on me. It has been a great year and I would like to keep the momentum going,” said Hedwall, who will join Michelle Wie among other big stars in the starting line-up of the euro 500,000 event, promoted and organized by golf in DUBAi.
“I have never been to Dubai, but have seen it on TV. It looks pretty specially the (Majlis) course against the backdrop of shimmering skyscrapers. I am told by fellow golfers it’s a great place to play golf.
“The tournament is professionally run and the players are looked after well by the organizers. I am looking forward to playing in Dubai and savouring the Arabian hospitality,” said Hedwall, who hails from Osterlen, the home town of now Dubai-based Henrik Stenson.
“I think LET players are up there with the best. The very fact that LPGA players now play in Europe shows LET is becoming stronger every passing year,” said the Swede, who upstaged major champions and Ryder Cup stars by winning the inaugural PowerPlay Golf event at the Celtic Manor in Wales in May this year.
Designed to emulate the speed and success of Twenty20 cricket, PowerPlay Golf is played over nine holes instead of the customary 18 for championship golf, using the Stableford points system.
Before turning pro earlier this year, Hedwall enjoyed a successful amateur career, winning the European Team Championship in 2008 and 2010, the European Amateur Championship in 2007 and 2009, and the World Amateur Championship in 2008.
While at Oklahoma State she was the 2010 NCAA Individual Champion, 2010 NGCA Player of the Year, 2010 Golfstat Cup Winner, 2009 and 2010 First-Team All-American, and Big 12 Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010.
“The presence of Caroline will bring fresh energy to the tournament. She has already shown flashes of her brilliance on the Tour and it would be tremendously exciting to watch this special talent,” said Mohamed Juma Bumaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi.
“She is already rated by many as the best player to come out of Europe since Annika Sorenstam and I am sure we’re going to see a lot of her in the near future.
“Sweden has a great reputation when it comes to producing world class female professional golfers. The dramatic rise of Caroline only underlines the truism. I wish her all the best and hope she keeps going strong and building on that already impressive resume.”
‘golf in DUBAi’ is backed by Omega as the title sponsor and Dubal (Dubai Aluminium) as the sponsor. The co-sponsors are: CNN, Emirates NBD, Gulf News, Jumeirah, Mercedes-Benz and wasl while Dubai Duty Free, Carpetland and Motivate are the Patrons in golf in DUBAi’s drive to showcase the emirate’s vibrant golfing scene to a worldwide audience.