Gwladys Nocera and Céline Herbin are looking forward to pairing up for France in the fifth edition of the World Ladies Championship, which gets under way on the Olazabal Course at Mission Hills Dongguan in China next week.
Although the tournament is primarily an individual 72-hole strokeplay event, Nocera and Herbin also have their sights fixed firmly on the team prize.
In light head of their recent victories in the 2015 Lalla Meryem Cup and Lacoste Ladies Open de France respectively, the pair are feeling confident in their bid to become the first Frenchwomen to win the trophy.
Four-time Solheim Cup player Nocera, who earned her 14th Ladies European Tour title 12 months ago in Morocco, will be making her fifth appearance in the World Ladies Championship, albeit at a new venue, as the tournament has moved from Haikou.
The 2008 Order of Merit winner will be joined at Mission Hills by her compatriot Herbin, who will be playing in the event for a second time.
Nocera said: “I’m very excited to be playing with Céline, in an amazing part of the world at one of the greatest golf venues. I feel like we both have a really good shot in both the individual and team competitions, but we are particularly passionate about representing France. Obviously there are some other great players too but I am very much looking forward to the challenge of the Olazabal course.”
Herbin added: “Gwladys and I are both recent winners and together we will being a lot of experience to Mission Hills. The individual event is very important as there is some large prize money and world ranking points at stake, which take on extra significance in this Olympic year, but the tournament is special because it’s also about winning as a team and representing your country. I would love to win both trophies!”
The make-up of the 126-woman field includes 40 players from each of the Ladies European Tour, China LPGA Tour and Korean LPGA Tour as determined by their 2016 Exemption List as well as six invited players.
The format is 72 holes of stroke play, with individual players competing for the US$700,000 prize fund. The top world-ranked two players from each country as of 1st January will compete for the team prize fund of US$100,000, using combined stroke play scores.
First played in 2012, the list of former champions reads like a who’s who of women’s golf, with great names such as Shanshan Feng, Suzann Pettersen, Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu having lifted the individual trophy. Feng led China to victory in the inaugural team competition but Korea has dominated the last three years.