Stacey Keating

Australian Stacey Keating is looking to capture her third straight Ladies European Tour title as she plays in the China Suzhou Taihu Open beginning on Friday at Suzhou Taihu International Golf Club.

The 26-year-old recorded back-to-back victories in her last two starts on the tour at the Tenerife Open de España and Lacoste Ladies Open de France, three weeks ago.

Now she hopes to tie Marie Laure de Lorenzi’s 23-year-old record for most consecutive wins back-to-back after the Frenchwoman notched three straight wins on the LET in 1989.  

“I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself but obviously I’ve been playing well so I’m looking forward to this week. I played here last year so I like the course and I’m looking forward to it,” said Keating, who missed the cut last year in Suzhou. “I just want to keep playing well and contending on the weekend and then I’m happy, regardless of the result.”

The key to Stacey’s success in recent months has been her putting after she started using the AimPoint method eight months ago, with the assistance of her caddie, Darren Peters, a PGA professional. However, she failed to master the grainy greens in the Ladies Indonesia Open on the Ladies Asian Golf Tour last week, as conditions were totally the opposite to what she usually plays on in Europe.

“The greens were totally different so I’m looking forward to getting on these greens, which are much faster,” she said, adding: “Making birdies on the par fives I think is the key in any tournament but putting, for sure, without putting too much pressure on it.”

Kongkraphan Patcharajutar (also known as PK)

Keating is ranked sixth on the LET’s ISPS Handa order of merit with €147,045.06 in season’s earnings from 18 tournaments, €25,767 behind top-ranked Carlota Ciganda.

The first prize is €52,500 this week and with four tournaments remaining Keating still has the opportunity to clinch the year-end order of merit along with a number of other players who are in the tournament.

Ciganda from Spain, who leads the Rolex Rookie of the Year race as well as the LET order of merit, is making her first appearance at the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open.  She is joined by second-ranked Caroline Masson, fourth ranked Carly Booth and fifth-ranked Lee-Anne Pace, the 2010 event champion as well as last year’s runner-up to Yani Tseng, Pernilla Lindberg, Laura Davies, Trish Johnson, Lydia Hall, Karen Lunn, Line Vedel and Anne-Lise Caudal.

The €350,000 Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open is tri-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour (LET), Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT) and China Ladies Professional Golf Association (CLPGA). The LET has 55 members in the field of 114 competitors, with 31 from the CLPGA, 22 from the LAGT, four Chinese national team members and two invitations. After two rounds there will be a cut to the leading 60 professionals and those tied.

Lin Xiyu – second on the CLPGA order of merit

Thailand’s Kongkraphan Patcharajutar is the top player from the LAGT having won the Enjoy Jakarta Ladies Indonesia Open last week. Interestingly, Kongkraphan is the new Money List leader on the LAGT with current earnings of US$60,011.

“A win here will strengthen my hold on the Money List as there are another two more events – the Sanya Ladies Open and Hero Women’s India Open – after the Suzhou Ladies Open,” said Kongkraphan.

The leading CLPGA player in the field is 16-year-old professional Lin Xiyu, ranked second on the CLPGA order of merit behind Feng Shanshan after picking up her second victory of the season at the Srixon Ladies Open last week.

Lin tied for fifth at the 2011 Sanya Ladies Open on her pro debut as a 15-year-old but admits that her game is not ideally suited to the Suzhou Taihu course where she tied for 51st last year. Her driving distance meant that she found too many bunkers off the tee, but this year plans to take a more strategic approach.