Lee-Anne Pace is presented with her award by Richard Wilson,Marketing Director from Henderson Global Investors.
The international Ladies European Tour made 26 stops in 21 different countries across the world in 2010, from New Zealand to Dubai and almost everywhere in between. Its competitors dodged volcanic ash clouds and typhoons, battled through tremendous heat, rain and fog and travelled countless miles to provide first class golf entertainment for fans and spectators. So at the end of the season, who were the winners on tour?
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Lee-Anne Pace became the first ever South African to be crowned as the women’s European No.1 by winning the Ladies European Tour’s Henderson Money List. The 29-year-old from Mossel Bay held off a spirited challenge from England’s Laura Davies after both players earned five victories each over the course of the year.
|Lee-Anne at theOmega Dubai Ladies Masters|
Pace also won the 2010 Players’ Player of the Year Award as voted for by her peers after setting herself apart with five tournament victories in five months, from June to October. Five years after turning professional, she finally won her first LET event at the Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open. Once she’d tasted winning she was unstoppable and won the S4C Wales Ladies Championship of Europe, the Finnair Masters in Finland, the Sanya Ladies Open and the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open in China. Little wonder her face was lit up by a constant smile.
Few could match Pace’s steady rise to fame. She was 110th on the rankings in her rookie season in 2007 and returned to Qualifying School where she placed 25th. The following year’s improvement was massive and she finished 64th on the Henderson Money List. She made another huge step in 2009 finishing 21st with four top-10 finishes and was first in 2010 with season’s earnings of €339,517.77 from 25 events. At a glittering end of year awards ceremony, Pace was presented with a salver and a bonus of €20,000 by Richard Wilson, Marketing Director from the title sponsor, Henderson Global Investors.
However, England’s Laura Davies by no means let Lee-Anne run away with the Henderson Money List title. Davies, who has won the Henderson Money List, formerly known as the order of merit, a record seven times, also collected five titles in 2010 in New Zealand, Germany, Austria, Spain and India.
In addition to having the most wins on the LET with 45 and having the record for the biggest margin of victory on Tour, with a 16 stroke win in Ireland in 1995, she is the LET’s most senior champion, having won the Hero Honda Women’s Indian Open aged 47 years, 1 month and eight days.
Around 25 years separated her first victory at the 1985 Belgian Open from her most recent in India, proving that not only is Laura better than most of her contemporaries, she has been beating them for longer than anybody else.
Laura Davies at the UniCredit Ladies German Open presented by Audi
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
|Leading LET rookieIn-Kyung Kim|
At the other end of the experience spectrum, In-Kyung Kim of South Korea won the 2010 Ryder Cup Wales Rookie of the Year award in association with the Bill Johnson trophy as the leading first year member of the Ladies European Tour.
The 22-year-old from Seoul joined the LET after her victory at the 2009 Omega Dubai Ladies Masters when playing on an invitation 12 months previously.
However, mention must be given to second-placed Spanish rookie Maria Hernandez, 24, from Pamplona, who won the Allianz Ladies Slovak Open. It was just her second Ladies European Tour event played as a professional. South Korean Hyun-Ji Kim, 22, also won as a rookie at the Daishin Securities Tomato M Korea European Ladies Masters. She joined the LET the previous year after winning the same tournament, which was co-sanctioned with the Korean LPGA.
FIRST TIME WINNERS
|First time winner Melissa Reidfinished 3rd overall|
There were four first time winners on the LET in 2010. In addition to Lee-Anne Pace and Maria Hernandez, both of whom are mentioned above, the English pair of Melissa Reid and Florentyna Parker both earned their maiden victories as professionals. Reid triumphed at the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open and Parker, who lives in Germany, won the ABN AMRO Ladies Open in the Netherlands. Both went on to finish inside the top 10 on the Henderson Money List after a string of top ten finishes. Reid finished third and Parker was eighth overall.
In total there were 16 different winners representing 10 countries over the season, reflecting the geographical and cultural diversity of the tour.
England led the way with nine titles, courtesy of Laura Davies, Melissa Reid, Florentyna Parker and Trish Johnson.
In her 24th season, Johnson recorded two victories at the Tenerife Ladies Open and the Open de France Feminin taking her worldwide title tally to 20. She was also named a life member of the LET.
South Africa was the next best represented with five titles courtesy of Lee-Anne Pace and Australia, Korea, Sweden and Taipei had two each.
|Trish Johnson won twiceon the LET in 2010|
Australian Karrie Webb took the ANZ Ladies Masters in her 17th season as a professional. Then fellow Australian Karen Lunn recorded a superb victory at the Portugal Ladies Open. It was her first win on the LET in 13 years.
Korea’s winners were Jiyai Shin at the Evian Masters presented by Societe Generale and Hyun-Ji Kim at the Daishin Securities Tomato M Korea European Ladies Masters.
Sweden’s Sophie Gustafson and Anna Nordqvist combined to take the Comunitat Valenciana European Nations Cup and then Gustafson again demonstrated her calibre by claiming the AIB Ladies Irish Open.
Yani Tseng of Taipei was twice victorious at the Women’s Australian Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open. There were also wins for Germany, Spain, France and Denmark.
Germany’s Anja Monke claimed the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco, Maria Hernandez of Spain won in Slovakia and Virginie Lagoutte-Clement from France triumphed at the Aberdeen Ladies Scottish Open. Denmark’s Iben Tinning retired in style with a fairytale win at the season-ending Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, a recurrent hip injury forcing her to step away.
As one chapter closes, another one opens and after Dubai the action continued at the LET’s Final Qualifying School at La Manga Club in Spain.
Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall led the class of newcomers with an emphatic victory, while Jaclyn Sweeney, Belen Mozo and Stacey Keating were also impressive. The future looks rosy with a new influx of talent hitting the tour in 2011.