Part 1 of 3
The first 10 months on the 2014 Ladies European Tour (LET) have been packed with exciting story lines. So far, 20 of 24 events have been played in 16 countries with 11 first time winners, including one two-time champion (Kylie Walker). The average age of this year’s first time winners is 24, but this moves up to 27 when looking at the bigger picture. Here, in the first of this three part series, we recap the first six events of the season in Oceania, Asia and Africa.
So far, this year has undoubtedly belonged to the first time winner. South Korean Mi Hyang Lee, 20, set the tone when she was the first of 11 players to collect her first Ladies European Tour title at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Women’s Open at Clearwater. Tiger’s niece, Cheyenne Woods, 23, from the USA, then made headlines around the world with her maiden LET victory at the VOLVIK RACV Ladies Masters at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast in Australia.
However, Australian Karrie Webb, 39, briefly halted the youngsters’ march when she earned a fifth ISPS HANDA Women’s Australian Open title at Victoria Golf Club in Melbourne, with a one stroke victory over South Korean Chella Choi.
It was then onto China and business as usual for World No.1 Inbee Park when she stormed to her first title of the year with a convincing five-shot victory in the World Ladies Championship at Mission Hills Haikou in Hainan. The South Korean came out on top in a head-to-head challenge with world No.2 Suzann Pettersen, reversing the result from 12 months previously. The South Korean pair of Park and So Yeon Ryu also won the team event being played simultaneously.
At the next stop, in Morocco, 17-year-old English Solheim Cup star Charley Hull finally fulfilled her promise when she collected her first LET title at the Lalla Meryem Cup at Golf de l’Ocean, Agadir. Hull came from five strokes behind overnight with a final round of nine-under-par 62 to join Gwladys Nocera in a play-off. After returning to the par-3 18th, Hull hit an unbelievable tee shot under pressure to within four feet of the flag and holed for birdie, while Nocera hit hers 15 feet short and missed the putt.
At the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open, it proved time for Valentine Derrey to step up and claim her first LET title after scoring seven-under-par for three rounds on the challenging, tree-lined National Golf Club in Antalya. This would be the start of a solid season for the 26-year-old from France.
Four first time winners from six events for starters – and we’re not even half way through the season! Next time we’ll journey through Europe, taking in seven events in six different countries.