Christina Kim, 25, USA
The Ryder Cup Wales Rookie of the Year Award can boast many luminaries of women’s golf as former winners and gives an accurate indication of whom to look out for in future years. Past recipients include Annika Sörenstam, Helen Alfredsson, Laura Davies, Trish Johnson, Karrie Webb, Laura Diaz, Suzann Pettersen, Minea Blomqvist, Melissa Reid and of course last year’s winner, Anna Nordqvist from Sweden who shot to stardom in 2009 with two victories and a Solheim Cup appearance.

This year there is a diverse class of first year competitors on the LET who between them represent 14 countries and speak a number of different languages. The USA leads the way with eight rookies, while there are six representatives from England, five from Korea and three from each of Spain and Sweden. There are two each from Australia, Japan and Scotland, with one from each of Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Wales.

With the start of the Ladies European Tour season at the Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open, hosted by Christchurch, just weeks away, here is the last in a four part series introducing the LET rookies in 2010.

Cat 8b
Christina Kim, 25, USAChristina Kim is a Korean American golfer who has competed on the LPGA Tour since 2003. She is well known for her vocal and animated style of play and the berets she often wears. Kim has earned two victories on the LPGA: the 2004 Longs Drugs Challenge and in 2005 The Mitchell Company Tournament of Champions presented by Kathy Ireland Worldwide. Prior to this she won a tournament on the Duramed Futures Tour in 2002. She was the youngest ever player to reach $1 million in earnings, before the record was broken by Paula Creamer. In 2009 she qualified for her second U.S. Solheim Cup Team by finishing sixth on the points list, posted a 3-1-0 overall record, including the final point to clinch the Cup for the U.S. Team. In 2009 her best finish was a tie for third at the RICOH Women’s British Open, her best finish at a major championship. She also played in two events on the LET, in Italy and Dubai, and her earnings allowed her to take membership of the tour. Kim is a big fan of Twitter and also has her own blog.
Cat 9b
Kim Welch, 26, USAA member of the Duramed Futures Tour in the United States since 2006, Welch has amassed a wealth of competitive experience since turning professional in January that year. The Sacramento, California, native, has posted eight top 10 finishes and earned her first professional win at the 2008 at the Alliance Bank Golf Classic and finished 10th on the money list, to earn membership of the LPGA Tour. The youngest of five kids, Welch was introduced to golf as a 7-year-old. She hated it at first but eventually earned a scholarship to Washington State University, where she recorded 29 top-10 finishes, including 11 victories, and earned 2003 Pac-10 First Team All-Conference honors, as well as a selection to the National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) All-American First Team. Welch has appeared on Big Break Ka’anapali on The Golf Channel in the United States and lists her hobbies as reading, puzzles, snowboarding and family.
Rhian Wyn Thomas, 22, WalesRhian Wyn Thomas found golf by chance five years ago when she attended the Welsh Golf Show at the age of 16. The Vale of Glamorgan player heard then national coach David Llewellyn inviting anyone who had never played the game to come forward and have a go at hitting a golf ball. Thomas, obviously with a great eye for ball games, turned out to have such a natural swing and ability that Llewellyn found it hard to believe she was a complete golfing novice. Tennis was her first sport as a teenager but she has come on leaps and bounds over the last five years. As an amateur, she was the 2007 Welsh Open strokeplay champion and a quarter finalist at the 2009 British Ladies Open Amateur Championship at Harlech. She also finished tied for 50th on the same golf course playing as an amateur in the S4/C Wales Ladies Championship of Europe on the LET. She represented Great Britain & Ireland at the 2008 Curtis Cup and as a member of the 2009 Vagliano Cup team. Last year she narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Ricoh British Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club and will hope to make amends this year. Off-course, Thomas enjoys eating out, going to cinema and supporting Welsh rugby.
Corisande Lee, England West Lancashire’s Corisande Lee turned professional after her most rewarding year as an amateur. She played a key role in Lancashire Ladies winning the England championship at Pleasington, playing in every match, finishing unbeaten in the foursomes and winning all but one of her singles. Her other successes included winning the Formby Leveret and the Pleasington Putter, third in an event at Roehampton open to the professionals and fourth in the English Strokeplay. She also reached the semi-finals of the Northern Ladies and, on a day of appalling weather, finished second in the Royal Birkdale Scratch. Lee earned her LET card on her second visit to Tour School, having travelled there with her father, Duncan, a professional golfer before an accident ended his career. Lee lives in Blackburn and makes a 40 mile round journey to use the practise facilities at West Lancashire approximately three times a week.
Rebecca Flood, 21, Australia Rebecca Flood is from the tiny north-western New South Wales town of Coonabarabran and has spent a life time of travelling in order to chase her dream. Growing up, she would make the 10-hour drive from home to Sydney at least six times a year and an 18-hour round trip to see her coach Gary Edwin on the Gold Coast. She took up golf at the age of 10 after watching her father Keith, who owns a local bakery, glide balls around the local course. Flood has enjoyed a successful career so far, finishing as the leading amateur at the 2008 Women’s Australian Open and at the 2009 ANZ Masters. She was also the NSW Amateur Stroke play champion. The NSW Institute of Sport student qualified for the 2009 Ricoh Women’s British Open, only to miss the cut. Away from golf, she says she enjoys shopping, spending time with family and friends and going to the beach. She credits her family and coach as influences as well as Michael McEntyre, her school principal.
Mariana Macias Capuzzi, 22, Spain Mariana Macias Capuzzi was a “Top Tiger” at Auburn University in the United States, where she majored in international business. As a junior, the Madrid native helped lead the Madrid team to a second place finish at the Interteritorial in Spain in 2004. She also won the Tournament of Pais Vasco. Capuzzi was the No. 1 ranked player in Madrid as a 14 and 15 year old. She placed fifth in the 2003 Spanish Junior Tournament and earned second place in the 2002 Doral. Capuzzi is the daughter of Emilio Macias and Elsa Capuzzi and she has one sister called Paty.
Cat 11a
Tonya Choate, 24, USARaised in a small town in Mount Vernon, Missouri, (MO) located about 30 minutes from Springfield, Tonya Choate has been playing golf since the age of eight. Choate’s father was her swing coach, psychologist and mental coach until she recently started working with a new teacher, Vic Wilk, in Las Vegas. Choate played golf at high school before attending Drury University, in Springfield. She turned professional in summer 2008 and competed in the Colorado Open and four SunCoast Series events that year, with a best finish of second. In 2009, Choate played in three Cactus Tour events, the Colorado Open (30th), two Canadian events (4th and 20th) and one SunCoast event (6th).
Cat 11b
G Young Park, 20, KoreaG Young Park from Seoul turned professional in September 2008 and has been competing in professional events in Korea. She took up golf at the age of 11 and says that she was influenced by Amy Yang. She lists her hobbies as music, movies and seeing friends.
Woori Shin, JapanWoori Shin, from Nagoya, transferred to the University of Tulsa from Auburn University in January 2008 and majored in psychology. She was on the Auburn roster during the first semester and played junior college golf at Redlands Community College . She was a two-time first-team NJCAA All-America selection and the individual medalist at the 2006 NJCAA national tournament . She captured medalist honors at the 2006 Bison Invitational. As a sophomore, she won the Deerfield Inn Region Shootout ad the Oklahoma Intercollegiate , placed third at the 2007 NJCAA national tournament , won the Central Regional Junior Championship and the Future’s National Championship during her prep career in Japan. She played in eight collegiate tournaments from 2007-2008 and finished among the top-15 in five tournaments, and four times among the top-10 . . . named the Conference USA Newcomer of the Year . . . had her first collegiate victory at the C-USA Championship . . . also placed fifth at The “Mo” Morial and sixth-place at the Fresno State Invitational . . . had a seventh-place performance at the Cane & Cardinal Classic.
Tracey Boyes, 28, EnglandTracey Boyes, from Southampton, started playing golf aged 15 and represents Hampshire. She currently holds a handicap of 0.3. Away from golf she enjoys going to the gym, reading and dancing.
Kimberley Crooks, 19, EnglandKimberley Crooks from Middlesborough made her debut in Yorkshire’s first team in 2007. She played a leading part in Yorkshire’s victory at the County Finals when they beat Hampshire 5-4 at Brokenhurst Manor in a match which was decided by the last putt on the last green. Crooks came back from one down after 16 holes to snatch the crucial half which ensured her team’s victory. Crooks started playing golf aged 10 and represents Saltburn Golf Club. She says she was influenced by her parents and enjoys running, shopping and socialising.
Tara Dayer-Smith, 29, EnglandTara Dayer-Smith enjoyed golfing success as an amateur but gave up golf at the age of 18 to pursue her main career. She took up the game again ten years later with a handicap of 9 but reduced it to 5 within 6 months. Dayer-Smith then set herself the goal of turning professional and gathered a team of experts to help her reduce her handicap to 3 within another six months. She achieved this goal in October 2009 and gained entrance to the LET’s Qualifying School in December 2009, where she played in the first stage but missed out on the final event.