Ladies European Tour Team Captain Trish Johnson is looking forward to the opening day of The Queens presented by Kowa after the first round draw produced some intriguing foursomes matches.
Johnson has selected English duo Florentyna Parker and Georgia Hall to open proceedings for Europe against the Japanese captain Ritsuko Ryu and Kotone Hori of the JLPGA Team in the first of Friday’s eight matches at 9am.
Johnson will be hoping that experience gives Scot Catriona Matthew and Dane Nanna Koerstz Madsen the edge as the returning pair take on Australians Sarah Kemp and Stacey Keating in the third match at 9.20am.
Elsewhere, Spain’s Nuria Iturrios and Isabelle Boineau of France come up against Hee Won Jung and Seon Woo Bae of Korea in the sixth match at 9.50am, while Sweden’s Linda Wessberg and Becky Morgan of Wales take on Japanese pair Erika Kikuchi and Ayaka Watanabe in the seventh match at 10am.
“We’ve got some difficult matches but my team are playing great. They are unbelievably confident, hopefully not over-confident. I’m really looking forward to it and it should be fun,” said first-time captain Johnson.
“Unless one of my team gets ill, I’m probably not going to play, so it’s a very different sort of feeling to when you’re a player. When you know you’ll just be watching and crossing fingers and praying: it’s invigorating! Watching them play, they all get on really well. There is a mixture of young and old and they are getting on great. Some think they are going to win 6 and 5 and I’m praying they’re right. The enthusiasm of youth is fun to be around.”
ALPG Team Captain Rachel Hetherington (above, bottom row, second from left), who is returning to lead the ALPG Team, is also full of confidence. She said: “The entire Aussie Tour is really excited to be and to play in this team format. A lot of the girls play either in the States or in Europe throughout the year and even though we’re from the same tour we don’t get to play a lot together and definitely don’t get to play as a team. It’s really fun to play together and we’ll do our best. All of the girls are playing great golf so we’re very confident and really looking forward to it.”
KLPGA Team Captain Jiyai Shin, the world number 24, is the lowest ranked player in the field and she will play with the second lowest ranked player Jin-Young Ko, the world number 28, in the fourth match against the Japanese pair of Shiho Oyama and Ai Suzuki.
Shin has won four times this year, with three wins on the JLPGA and the RACV Ladies Masters in Australia on the LET, while Ko has three wins on the KLPGA. “It took nearly one hour to prepare the pairings and order,” said Shin, 28, who has been based in Japan for the last three years. “I am the oldest in our team and Jin-Young is the youngest, so it’s a little bit weird.
“As a first-time captain, there is a little bit of pressure because of all the focus and I’m quite busy, but I’m enjoying it. The Korean team’s average age is the youngest, so we have a lot of passion and power: that is our team’s strength. I just keep pushing, saying: ‘You can do it!’”
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, JLPGA Team Captain Ritsuko Ryu was also full of confidence. She said: “I’m very excited and playing to win this for the second year running. We still have the same target, but many players are here for the first time. I’m happy to share the experience with the new players but I feel the responsibility. There were players that wanted to play that aren’t in the team this year, so the players will be really fired up for the tournament.”
A total of 32 matches will be played over three days: with eight foursomes matches on day one, eight four-ball matches on day two and 16 singles matches on day three. Scoring is via a points system, with each match being worth 2 points to the winning team. If a match ends all square after 18 holes, 1 point is awarded to each team. On completion of the first two days, the leading two teams will contest the “Championship Final” on Sunday 4th December, while the other two teams will contest the “Third Place Final.”