|The opening drive of the pre-tournament Pro-Am|
The Ladies European Tour is in China for the fifth edition of the Sanya Ladies Open at Yalong Bay Golf Club on Hainan Island, starting on Friday, followed by the inaugural Xiamen Open on the Chinese mainland.
A total of 120 top golfers from 27 countries and regions will participate this week, including 55 players from the Ladies European Tour (LET), 33 from the China LPGA Tour, 22 from the Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT) and ten invitations.
The leading players in the field include Charley Hull, Gwladys Nocera, Nikki Campbell, Valentine Derrey, Camilla Lennarth, Florentyna Parker, Trish Johnson, Connie Chen and Kylie Walker.
While last year’s winner Lee-Anne Pace is not playing due to personal reasons, the 2012 winner Cassandra Kirkland has returned and will be hoping to recapture the 45,000 euro first prize.
The 30-year-old from Paris said: “I’ve been playing decent all year, making cuts and top 20s and 30s, but I just need to make a few more putts. Other than that I’m quite happy with my game and I think I can do it again. I’m not putting pressure on myself, but it’s a course that suits me and there’s usually wind, which I love.”
Last year, China’s Yu Yang Zhang earned a career best finish of second after a play-off and she is excited to be back at the tropical venue.
“It’s where I’ve been the closest to being a champion in my professional career,” said the 23-year-old third year LET member from Guangzhou. “This is my fourth year here and every year has been a little improvement so I hope this year can be even better.”
Xi Yu Lin is another Chinese player to watch, as she has recorded four top 10 finishes from as many appearances in the event, having fist played in 2010 as a 14-year-old amateur.
Now in her second year as a member of the LET and her first year on the LPGA Tour, Lin said: “I like the course and in China there are not too many windy golf courses like this, so it’s tough, but I’m happy to have had a few good scores here.”
Once again, the players are looking forward to testing themselves against the par-72 (36-36) Robert Trent Jones-designed course, which will be set at 6484 yards for the tournament. Since its inception in 2000, Yalong Bay has successfully staged 13 professional tournaments including the Sanya Open in 2003, 2004 and 2006, the Volkswagen Masters in 2006, Crowne Plaza Open in 2006; the TCL Classic on the PGA European Tour in 2005, 2006 and 2007 as well as the Sanya Ladies Open in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. The course was named as one of the ‘World 100 Best Courses outside the US’ and in ‘China’s Top 10 Golf Clubs’ by American Golf Digest.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
10 invited players
60 number of professionals who will make the cut, plus ties
1 past champion (Cassandra Kirkland)
7 2014 LET champions
63 (-9) tournament low score (2013, Nikki Campbell R1 and Jia Yun Li R3)
203 (-13) Lowest winning score (Lee-Anne Pace, 2013)
210 (-6) Highest winning score (Cassandra Kirkland, 2012)
1 play-off (2013)
300,000 prize fund in euros
45,000 first prize in euros