New Zealand’s teenage star Lydia Ko will be one of eight competitors vying for the amateur title at the World Ladies Championship starting on Friday.
Ko, who won the Women’s New South Wales Open by four shots in January, is part of a glittering cast at the World Ladies Championship, which features a unique three-in-one format, with an individual professional, amateur and team competition running concurrently over 54 holes on the Vintage Course at Mission Hills Haikou in China.
Having Ko tee up against fellow 14-year-old Shi Yuting and 16-year-old Yan Jing is an exciting prospect for Chinese golf fans, who will get to witness how their home grown talents fare against the world’s top amateur.
Ko has had a stellar year in Australia in 2012, winning the Australian amateur match play and then becoming one of the youngest ever winners of a professional golf tour event, at the age of 14.
She finished 32nd at the Gold Coast RACV Ladies Masters the following week, tied for 19th in the ISPS Handa Australian Open, which was co-sanctioned with the LPGA Tour and was equal 17th at the Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open.
However, after an exhausting stretch of tournaments, she had to withdraw from the recent Riversdale Cup in Melbourne, suffering from dizziness and nausea, but recuperated before flying to China for this week’s prestigious event, which is co-sanctioned by the China LPGA and Ladies European Tour.
“I felt bad for a day, but I’m fine now and it wasn’t a biggie,” said, Ko, on her first visit to China.
She was enjoying Mission Hills Haikou and added: “Apart from the weather, the resort itself is really nice. On the course I would say that the greens are really fast and design wise the course is very unique, the greens are rectangular and there are volcano shaped mounds. You don’t really get that anywhere else and it’s a special place.”
Yuting, who finished fourth at last year’s China Ladies Open, has high expectations and commented: “I have improved in long range and it’s a new start for me. This is the first match of the year, and I have good preparation works, and hope to get into the top ranking.”
Meanwhile, Yan Jing, who won a silver medal at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, commented: “I wish to have a better performance for this competition. Hope to get into a higher ranking. This is a good opportunity to play against with all these good players here in the Mission Hills, Haikou. I really think this is an excellent event. This is the first match in this year, and I really feel very good now since I keep on practicing all the time.”
The other amateurs in the field are Singapore-based Charlotte Thomas of England, 19, who won the inaugural Annika Invitational tournament on The Annika Course at Mission Hills Shenzhen in September; Australian Adriana Brent; China’s Lisa Wu Sha; Yi-Chen Liu of Chinese Taipei and Dottie Ardina from the Philippines.
The leading amateur player who makes the cut in the World Ladies Championship will be offered a spot in the Lalla Meryem Cup, a Ladies European Tour event taking place from 22nd – 25th March 2012, at Golf de I’Ocean in Adadir Morocco.
They will also receive an invitation to play in the China Ladies Open on the China LPGA Tour taking place during the second week of December.