The world’s top player, four former champions, the two leading money earners on the Ladies European Tour (LET) and a former world No. 1 amateur player combine to make this year’s ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open at Clearwater Golf Course the strongest ever.
While the focus has been on Rolex World No.1 Lydia Ko, who won the ISPS HANDA Women’s Australian Open on Sunday, the list of contenders continues to grow with former world No. 1 amateur, and winner of the RACV Ladies Masters on the Gold Coast, 18-year-old Australian Su Oh, also confirmed. Oh was No.1 ranked World Amateur in October 2013 and at aged 12, the youngest player to ever qualify for the Women’s Australian Open.
Oh said that she is looking forward to returning to Clearwater. “It is a great course but tough in the wind. From what I can remember it is a very pretty course,” she said.
While Oh has played in tournaments where Ko has been playing, she has never been paired with the World No. 1 and would look forward to an opportunity for that happen. “Hopefully we will get a lot of people out watching us,” Oh said.
Tournament director, Bob Tuohy, said that in the seven-year history of the event, this field had the greatest depth. “If you gave it a male perspective, it’s like having Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose all playing at Clearwater next week,” he said.
The two leading money earners on the LET last season, Charley Hull (England) and Gwladys Nocera (France) are both confirmed, as are former champions Dame Laura Davies (England) and Kristie Smith (Australia). Ko won the event in 2013 and Nocera was the inaugural winner in 2009, both at Clearwater.
“Following straight after the two events in Australia, many players are continuing on to New Zealand. The Clearwater event does clash with a LPGA tournament in Thailand, but that is a restricted field meaning many players are opting to come to Christchurch because their rankings are not high enough to play in that event.
“For Lydia to decide to play in the ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open ahead of that event was a big call on her behalf and that of her management team and I’m sure golf fans throughout the country appreciate her decision. Much of the credit must go to New Zealand Golf who were central in all the discussions,” he said.
Also included in the field of 128 for the tournament, which commences on Friday, February 27, are 10 New Zealand amateurs, four invites from the Taiwan LGA and four invites from the new China LPGA.
“The 200,000 Euros event carries the largest prize money for any women’s event in New Zealand and has attracted an international field to match,” he said.