The Ladies European Tour rookie class of 2015 features 37 professional golfers from 18 different countries. Among the new members are a tournament champion from 2014, four of the five graduates of the LET Access Series and first-time representatives of Kazakhstan, Hungary and Chinese Taipei.
Ssu-Chia Cheng (Taipei)
Top Chinese Taipei amateur Ssu-Chia Cheng won the inaugural Xiamen Open aged 17 when she made her Ladies European Tour debut at Orient (Xiamen) Golf and Country Club in China in November 2014, which was co-sanctioned by the China LPGA Tour. Cheng recorded a 54-hole total of 10 under par in the event and ended three strokes ahead of French professional Marion Ricordeau, who earned the €37,500 first prize. Cheng became the sixth amateur to win on the Ladies European Tour and the first since Lydia Ko at the ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open in February 2013.
Csilla Lajtai-Rosza (Hungary)
Csilla, pronounced ‘Chilla’ in English, or ‘Chi-Chi’ for short, is too young to remember the LET’s OTP Bank Central European Open played in her native Hungary from 2004-2006, but her recent achievement is expected to have a significant impact on the development of golf in her country after she finished tied for 17th place at Lalla Aicha Tour School for 2015. First introduced to golf at the age of eight by her TV commentator uncle, Peter Lajtai, who took her to a golf show called ‘Golfstar Gala,’ Lajtai-Rosza had to wait three years until she was 11 to play properly, when a golf course opened 10 minutes from her home.
Jamila Jaxaliyeva (Kazhakstan)
She was born in Kazhakstan, studied maths in Switzerland and speaks four languages. Now Jamila Jaxaliyeva hopes to represent Kazakhstan at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games after joining the LET in 2015. Jamila tied for 73rd at Lalla Aicha Tour School Final Stage at the third attempt to qualify. She picked up the game aged 15 and her golfing education has been somewhat unorthodox, as she was introduced to the game by Vladimir Shkolnik, professor of theoretical physics and one of the founders of golf in Kazakhstan. She is coached by her father, Magzhan, an engineer who is very technically minded. The Kazakh President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is a passionate golfer himself, gifted her first set of clubs and follows all of her results.
Emma Westin (Sweden)
Westin topped the 2014 LETAS order of merit after a record breaking three tournament wins last season and therefore qualified for the Ladies European Tour as one of the top five players from LETAS. She won the Solvesborg Ladies Open hosted by Fanny Sunesson in Sweden, the HLR Golf Academy Open in Finland and the Mineks & Regnum Ladies Classic in Turkey, along with a further five top ten finishes. Her lowest round of the season was at an opening round of 65, six under par, at the HLR Golf Academy Open. On her goals for her first year on the Ladies European Tour, she commented: “Just getting a lot of experience and having a really good season.” Westin is one of six rookies from Sweden on the LET in 2015. Originally from Boras, Gothenburg, she now lives in Halmstad, the home of The 2007 Solheim Cup.
Lina Boqvist (Sweden)
Boqvist finished second on the LET Access Series in 2014, recording seven top ten finishes in 12 events and her first win in a play-off at the Onsjo Ladies Open in her home country of Sweden. In addition to her win, she was second at the Mineks and Regnum Ladies Classic in Turkey at the beginning of September, ending two shots behind the eventual winner, fellow Swede Emma Westin. Her lowest round was 5 under par, which she scored in both the first and second rounds at the OCA Augas Santas International Ladies Open. Lina enjoys volleyall and her favourite golfer is Annika Sorenstam.
Daisy Neilsen (Denmark)
Neilsen finished the season in great form by winning the WPGA International Challenge in England, after earning a runner up spot at the Grecotel Amirandes Ladies Open. She did not miss a single cut in the 15 LETAS tournaments she played in 2014, finishing third on the Order of Merit with a scoring average of 72. When not on the golf course, Neilsen enjoys cooking and playing badminton and is very passionate about fitness. She was born in Northampton, England and can speak fluent English and Danish, as well as some Spanish and German. Her favourite golfers are Tiger Woods, Annika Sörenstam and Rory McIlroy. Daisy has a younger brother, who caddied for her when she won the WPGA International Challenge held at Stoke by Nayland Golf and Spa.
Tonje Daffinrud (Norway)
Daffinrud turned professional in August 2014 and competed in just eight events on the LET Access Series on her way to gaining her Ladies European Tour card for 2015. The 23-year-old enjoyed a remarkable finish to her season, recording back-to-back wins at the Azores Ladies Open and the Grecotel Amirandes Ladies Open and then finished third at the WPGA international Challenge securing her top five position in the LETAS order of merit. Her lowest round of the season came in the Grecotel Amirandes Ladies Open, with an opening 66, five under par. Daffinrud started playing golf at the age of 10. When she isn’t playing golf she enjoys spending time with her family and friends as well as watching sports and working on her fitness. She has a degree in International Business and Economics from the University of Denver where she graduated in 2014.