The recent 2011 Omega Dubai Ladies Masters winner Lexi Thompson and major championship winner Stacy Lewis of the United States have confirmed their participation in this year’s Gold Coast RACV Australian Ladies Masters. The Ladies European Tour’s season-opening event will take place at Royal Pines Resort in Queensland from 2-5 February, 2012.In the first of several player announcements, Tournament Chairman Bob Tuohy was thrilled to confirm that Lewis and Thompson will be teeing it up. “The field will once again be full of a spectacular array of talent, not just the current stars such as Lewis but just as importantly, stars of the future. Our event has proven to be a fantastic breeding ground. Stacy had an amazing 2011 and Lexi, well we have known for a long time of her talent and we can’t wait for her to return.”
Thompson, aged just 16, is one of the hottest players in world golf, having broken through for her first professional victory in September at the Navistar LPGA Classic. In doing so she became the youngest ever winner in the history of the LPGA Tour. She then followed up with her second professional title at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters on the Ladies European Tour in late December. Some of the other highlights of her fledgling career include finishing as the runner-up at the 2010 Evian Masters, tied 10th at the 2010 US Women’s Open, being Golfweek’s No.1 ranked amateur in 2009 and she also holds the record as the youngest player, at 12 years of age, to have qualified for a US Women’s Open, in 2007. Thompson celebrated her 16th birthday at last year’s Ladies Masters and will turn 17 just after this year’s event on February 10th. “I am so excited to return to the beautiful Gold Coast and start my year off at the 2012 RACV Australian Ladies Masters. I appreciate the opportunity to come down and play a great golf course with a fantastic sponsor, volunteers, and fans. It is truly going to be an amazing event,” Thompson said. Rolex World No. 10 Lewis enjoyed a phenomenal 2011 season. She made her first LPGA tournament win a major championship, when she went head to head with current Rolex World No.1 Yani Tseng. Lewis played a magnificent final round to win by three and capture the prestigious Kraft Nabisco Championship. The 26-year old recorded another 11 top 10 finishes from 23 starts, including two runner-up finishes at the Evian Masters and Canadian Women’s Open. She finished 2011 in fourth position on the LPGA Money List with US$1,356,211. Lewis said “I am really looking forward to heading back the Gold Coast for the RACV Australian Ladies Masters, it’s the perfect place for me to start my 2012 season. I had such a great time last year and came so close, I’m hoping I can lift the trophy this time around. The tournament has such a fantastic history and I would be honoured to have my name alongside the likes of Karrie Webb, Annika Sorenstam, Laura Davies.”Another young gun, Spaniard Belen Mozo is a definite starter. Mozo enjoyed a successful amateur career, becoming the first player since 1972 to win both the Women’s British Amateur Championship and British Girls Amateur Championship. While at the University of Southern California she was a four-time NCAA/All-American. She qualified for the LPGA at her first attempt and played in 15 events this year, her best finish was 5th at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. Local player Courtney Massey, from Southport, who recently turned professional, will be trying to play her way into the Ladies Masters. If she is one of the Top-10 money earners on the ALPG money list at the end of the Bing Lee/Samsung Women’s NSW Open, not already exempt into the tournament, she will get a chance to play in front of family and friends. The Australian contingent will be led by 2009 Ladies Masters Champion Katherine Hull and 2011 runner-up, Nikki Campbell. Three-time winner England’s Laura Davies has already confirmed her entry for the 20th consecutive time. Davies, who has won 79 titles worldwide, will enjoy three weeks competing in ALPG tournaments ahead of the RACV Royal Pines Resort event. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh looked forward to welcoming the international golf stars to the State in 2012.
“Attracting international players to Queensland for the Gold Coast RACV Ladies Masters is great news for the region,” said Ms Bligh. “This event puts a spotlight on the Gold Coast as a great holiday destination, attracting visitors from interstate and overseas – which is great for the Queensland tourism industry, local economy, businesses and jobs. This event will be broadcast to some of Queensland’s key tourism markets, including Korea, Japan and New Zealand – showcasing the region to a national and international audience and further supporting our status as a sporting state.”The Gold Coast RACV Australian Ladies Masters will be broadcast live throughout Australia on ABC1, on Saturday 4 February from 2:00pm to 6:00pm and Sunday 5 February from 1:00pm to 6:00pm. More player announcements will be made in the coming weeks.