LET Life member Trish Johnson is one of the star players in the Lacoste Ladies Open de France at Golf de Chantaco in St. Jean-de-Luz this week, where she is bidding to win the title for a record fourth time.
Along with Marie Laure de Lorenzi, Johnson is one of only two players who have won the title three times, in 1996 and 1999 at Golf d’Arras and in 2010 at Paris International Golf Club.
In 1996, she opened with an 11-under-par 62 to set a new LET scoring record for the lowest 18 holes in relation to par, which has since been matched by five other players (Kirsty Taylor, Nina Reis, Lisa Holm Sorensen, Karrie Webb and So Yeon Ryu respectively).
Northern France has always proved a happy hunting ground for Johnson, but south-western France has also been fruitful. A fifth place finish at Golf de Chantaco in 2012 preceded a tie for 16th in 2015, while Johnson did not compete in 2013 and 2014.
So far this year on the LET, Johnson’s best finish has been a tie for ninth in the Lalla Meryem Cup, followed by a tie for 11th at the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España Femenino a fortnight ago, but her season received a boost in August when she won the Legends Championship in the United States, after a marathon six-hole play-off against US Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster.
With her game and confidence on the rise, Johnson she feels that a 20th LET victory is possible at Golf de Chantaco. “I’ve never done particularly well here and I always think I should do. It’s a fiddly course and that usually suits me. I’m looking forward to this week,” said Johnson, who has 19 Ladies European Tour victories, three LPGA wins and one on the Legends Tour.
“I’m playing really well and every part of my game is pretty good. I don’t think it’s really a long hitter’s golf course so I feel like I’ve got a fair chance. I suppose there are a lot of birdies to be made and I think the reason I quite like it is that there are quite a few short iron shots, and that’s probably the best part of my game.”
Last week, Johnson worked on her swing at Westward Ho! near her parents’ home in North Devon and she explained: “I worked on hinging my left hand and figured it out. I started swinging my left arm only, which will automatically make it hinge. It came back immediately.”
As the LET captain for The Queens presented by Kowa, the forthcoming team match play tournament in Japan, Johnson, an eight-time Solheim Cup player, recognises the huge amount of world class talent in the field in France, which will present fierce competition.
She will be surveying the performances of her prospective LET team members, who will take on the best players from the Korean LPGA, LPGA of Japan and Australian Ladies Professional Golf tours in December.
There are several young LET players in France looking to qualify for the team, including Scotland’s Pamela Pretswell, England’s Florentyna Parker and Isabelle Boineau from France, who claimed her first LET title at the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open earlier this summer.