Sweden’s Lotta Wahlin and Russian No 1. Maria Verchenova attended a press launch at National Golf Club ahead of this year’s Turkish Airlines Ladies Open, which takes place May 5-8 in Belek, Antalya.
Lotta’s victory at the National Golf Club in 2008 was remarkable in many ways. She took the lead in round one with a two-under 71 extending that lead after every round and finishing with a three-under 70 to finish on seven-under, leaving the rest of the field trailing in her wake. In joint second place at five-over par were Paula Marti (Spain) Stacy Lee Bregman (South Africa) and Johanna Westerberg (Sweden). Lotta’s 12 shot winning margin was the second highest in the 30-year history of the LET.
Lotta stated that she intends to play an almost full season in 2011 after playing a limited number of events in 2009 and 2010 because of a health issue. She is looking in great shape, back into a full training schedule; hitting the ball with the authority she was when she won the first Turkish Ladies event in 2008. She is really looking forward to returning to National Golf Club and feeling confident.
Lotta was very impressed with the condition of the golf course and the many design improvements that have been implemented since that first Turkish Ladies event. Three greens have been reshaped, many bunkers have had major surgery; 12 tees have been rebuilt and enlarged. More importantly, the turf grass conditions of the golf course have improved considerably, especially the greens, making this very challenging layout a very fair, if difficult test.
Maria Verchenova, a long-time friend of the National, where as a young teenager she did much of her winter training, still visits several times a year. Lotta and Maria played an entertaining exhibition match with Dr Bulent Goktuna, President of The National Golf Club and the promoter of the tournament, at the press launch. Several of the National girls junior squad each joined in playing a few holes each.
They then gave a fun and instructive clinic to the 70-strong junior squad, and answered an almost never ending number of questions from an inquisitive, eager for knowledge group of budding golf professionals.
Melissa Reid, the current Henderson Money List leader, won the second Turkish Airlines Ladies Open when it was staged again at National last year.