Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord can’t wait to see San Lameer Country Club for the first time next week where she will defend the Cell C South African Women’s Open, from Thursday 16th October.

Last year, the 28-year-old from Sarpsborg was named the winner of South Africa’s premier women’s professional golf tournament after it was reduced from 54 to 18 holes due to adverse weather.

Skarpnord opened with a first-round three under par 69 in rainy conditions at Southbroom Golf Club in KwaZulu-Natal, however, as conditions did not improve and the course became unplayable, organisers took the decision to reduce the event.

“I was obviously very happy when I realised I won, but it was a very different week because of the weather and I think we were all a bit tired waiting around,” said Skarpnord, who claimed her third Ladies European Tour title at Southbroom Golf Club last year.

“I´m really looking forward to next week. I love SA and I used to spend a lot of time there. And my former South African caddie Brian (Shezi) will be there with me so that will top it.”

Skarpnord, now in her 10th year on the Ladies European Tour, enjoyed her most successful season in 2009, when she finished fourth on the money list after winning both the Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open and Carta Sì Ladies Italian Open.

From 16 events this year, her best result was a tie for eighth at the Ladies Italian Open and she is currently ranked 62nd on the order of merit.

“I haven’t played well this year and I need to get back to a happy place where I enjoy playing golf and being out on tour,” she added. “I have been struggling with the mental side of the game, but I’m working on it so hopefully the results will come soon. I just want to go out and focus on all my small jobs and if I do that well I will have a good result. But the main thing for me is to not feel any extra pressure because I won last year. I´m just home at the moment so I can do some work with my coach. My game hasn’t been very good lately so I think that´s the best way for me to prepare.”

The strong field of 126 competitors includes players representing 24 different countries from all around Europe as well as Australia, Brazil, Morocco, New Zealand and the United States.

There are 39 members of the Women’s Professional Golf Association (WPGA) of South Africa in the field including Ladies European Tour members Lee-Anne Pace, Stacy Lee Bregman, Ashleigh Simon, Connie Chen, Kim Williams, Nicole Garcia and Nobuhle Dlamini.

Chen opened the door to a new chapter in her short career when she closed out the Tenerife Open de España Femenino with a maiden pro victory a fortnight ago and the 21-year-old Gauteng player will be looking to consolidate her position on home turf.