Florentyna Parker will be aiming for back-to-back victories on the Ladies European Tour when she plays in the inaugural Ladies European Thailand Championship in a fortnight.
The 28-year-old Englishwoman, who recently claimed her third title at the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open in Spain, will have plenty of goals when she tees up in the new event at Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club near Pattaya, from July 6-9.
Now in her ninth year on tour, she will be eager to build on her sensational start to the season. Currently lying in third place on the LET order of merit after four appearances, she will need to finish in fourth spot or better in Thailand to overtake the current OOM leader and she will also have a chance to take the lead in the European Solheim Cup rankings as she targets a place on the team in Iowa.
Parker said: “I am really looking forward to seeing Phoenix Gold Golf & Country Club for the first time and playing in the inaugural Ladies European Thailand Championship. It looks like a stunning place and with a quality field of LET and Thai LPGA players, I am sure that it will be a fantastic new event.
“As this is one of the last three events to count for The Solheim Cup, it is also a very exciting tournament for me personally. My goal for the last two years has been to be part of the European team. With a good result in Thailand, I can get very close to confirming my place. In the last tournament that I played on the LET, I won a thrilling play-off, so I am still feeling very confident and I can’t wait to get started in Pattaya.”
The tournament will also feature a strong French challenge, with the 2008 order of merit winner Gwladys Nocera relishing a return to Thailand. The 42-year-old holds fond memories of finishing second to Shani Waugh after a play-off at the Thailand Ladies Open, played at Alpine Golf and Sports Club in Bangkok in 2005, during her third season on tour.
She has since become one of the leading names in European women’s golf, amassing 14 tournament victories all around the world from 2006-2015, the most recent of which was the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco. She also holds the all-time LET record for the lowest 72-hole winning total of 29-under-par.
Nocera said: “I love Thailand, I’ve been there a couple of times, and each time it’s a real pleasure. Plus, I’m always looking forward to a tournament, I love to compete, so this is one more opportunity for me. The only expectation I have is to enjoy the week and play my best. I’m feeling good, in shape… so let’s have fun!”
Among the rising stars in the field is Nuria Iturrios, 21, from Mallorca, who shot to prominence when she won the Lalla Meryem Cup as a rookie in early 2016. Currently lying in 17th place on the order of merit after a solid start to this season, she cannot wait to visit Thailand for the first time and said: “I’m excited to get the chance to go and play there and discover a new place. I know there are some great Thai players, but I don’t know how popular women’s golf is there, so if, with this event, we can help them to make it more visible and bring more players to the game, it would be great. I’ve been recovering from a small injury over the last few weeks, but I think I’m completely recovered now and I hope I can play my best golf and be amongst the last groups on the Sunday.”
The other rising stars in the field include Anne Van Dam from the Netherlands, who claimed her first trophy at the Xiamen International Ladies Open in China in October, Annabel Dimmock from England, who finished third in the recent Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco and Jenny Haglund from Sweden, currently the leading first year player on tour after a tied eighth place finish in the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open in Spain.
All 126 players in the field will be looking forward to playing the Ladies European Thailand Championship at one of the most stunning destinations on the 2017 LET schedule: Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club, which hosted the King’s Cup, a tri-sanctioned event on the men’s European, Asian and Thai Tours, in 2016.
Measuring 6,243 yards, the par-72 18-hole women’s championship course will include nine holes from each of the Mountain and Ocean courses, set among naturally rolling parkland with fairways lined by young and mature trees and spectacular views from most holes.