|Gwladys at Han Shan Temple, Suzhou, China|
(SUZHOU, CHINA – 27th October 2009) – Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera is in China with a simple objective this week: to claim her first victory of the 2009 Ladies European Tour season.
With just three opportunities left this year for her to secure an 11th Ladies European Tour title, the 34-year-old Solheim Cup player aims to finish the season on a high note.
Relaxing ahead of the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open, which starts on Friday, she enjoyed some sight-seeing and explained how she is looking to make amends for a disappointing season by her own lofty standards.
“Obviously it’s not been that fun this year. I did some really good and some bad so it’s been an up and down season. I would like to win a tournament before the end of the season and then the final LPGA Q School. The objective of these two tournaments is simple: to win!” she said.
Nocera is making her first visit to China for the $300,000 tournament, which takes place at Suzhou Taihu International Golf Club, just outside Suzhou.
Built in 514 BC, Suzhou is one of China’s oldest cities and still stands on its original location. It is known as the Venice of Asia due to its layout of canals and streets in parallel.
After visiting the Han Shan Temple, built during the reign of Tianjian in the Liang Dynasty from 502-519 and ringing the ancient temple bell for good luck, Nocera visited Shan Tang Street for some light shopping.
“We went to visit a temple in Suzhou and it was actually pretty nice. It’s amazing to see the architecture and all the people coming in to pray, that impressed me how open it is. They come in and pray while people walk, take pictures, talk. I think it’s cool,” she said.
|Preparing to ring the bell at the temple|
“Everybody does what they want to do and they keep going. It’s amazing to see all the colours and the Buddha everywhere. It’s pretty amazing to see this very old temple and to see that it’s still here and it’s so respected by everybody. I rang the big bell three rings for a wish to come true, so I hope it works.”
Like the other 105 players in the field, Nocera will be wishing for a successful time in China. She won five times in 2008 and clinched the Money List, but has not won since the Madrid Ladies Masters 12 months ago.
“I don’t want to think too much about winning. I want to play and to give my best on each shot and each putt and then we will see on Sunday,” she commented.
With five top ten finishes this season, including a tie for second at the AIB Ladies Irish Open, she claims that she would be happy with a top five position. So why has she struggled to grasp that elusive 11th LET victory? She feels that she subconsciously put expectations on herself and perhaps pushed herself too severely.
“I feel I should have taken a few more days (off) at the beginning (of the year) and then after I probably played too many and travelled too much. I travelled to Australia, came back and went to Singapore, came back, went to the US, came back, went to Japan, came back to the US again, I think I travelled a lot and I didn’t have time to settle. I think that was not that good but I’m not looking for any excuses. I played well but I didn’t come up with good scores.
“I couldn’t finish my rounds; I pretty much had one bad round every week and I got really frustrated towards the middle of the season where I really didn’t enjoy playing and I kept fighting. Evian, the British, have been really hard on me but I kept my head high and came back strong at The Solheim. I’m feeling better again,” she continued.
Despite all the travelling, she will head to LPGA Final Qualifying School in December, with the aim to model her 2010 schedule on that of Laura Davies, who alternates between playing in the United States and Europe.
Should she qualify, she would continue to live in Switzerland but would travel to various tournaments in the US in an attempt to improve her world ranking and better prepare for the major championships.
Playing in the Summer Olympic Games is also motivation. Nocera will be 41 when they are played in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, but she says: “It is a goal now, to be ready at 41.”
Over the last seven years, she has established herself as one of the most respected players on the Ladies European Tour and there is every reason to believe that she can continue the trend over the next seven.
She may have had a quiet year to date but it is far from over yet. There is every reason to believe that Nocera’s best is yet to come.