Karen Stupples returns to Wales this week to defend at the S4C Wales Ladies Championship of Europe at Conwy Golf Club (12-15 August).
The 2004 Women’s British Open champion triumphed by a shot over South Korean Amy Yang last year at Royal St. David’s in Harlech.
This year, the event has moved along the North Wales coast to the tough links, playing at 6,371-yards for the championship.
Some say Conwy is the toughest course in North Wales and Stupples found it a very different challenge to that of Royal St David’s.
“I think here, it is going to play a lot tougher because of the gorse and it’s very fortified with bunkers too off the tee shots and things. It’s potentially a more strategic golf course,” she said, adding that the strong winds coming off the Irish Sea through the Menai Straights would add to the challenge.
“I mean, you hit a 200 yard eight-iron but you also hit a 180-yard three-wood. It was absolutely nuts. To think about hitting eight irons that go that far is just wild. You really have to get your head in the game and start thinking about where you want it to land and how much the wind is going to play.
“You’ve got to strike the ball extremely well and try and make as few mistakes as possible. You want to avoid the fairway bunkers at all costs, because that’s guaranteed a dropped shot. You’ve got to miss the gorse bushes: that’s guaranteed a dropped shot. If you can do that you’ll have a pretty good week.”
Stupples, who was brought up in Deal, Kent, missed the cut at the Ricoh Women’s British Open a fortnight ago and added: “I played very poorly at the British. I’ve taken some time off this last week and feeling a bit fresher. I feel like I’m starting to play a bit better.
“I’m going to have to fight my aggressive play tendencies on some holes and try and play it a little bit cautious where some of the bunkers are. I’d love to stand there and hit drivers everywhere but I don’t think you can around this course.”
Stupples will play with local favourite Becky Brewerton, from Abergele and Australian Karen Lunn for the first two rounds.
Conwy is one of Brewerton’s favourite courses where she won the British Amateur Close Championship in 1999.
Another player familiar with the layout is Melissa Reid, who moved up to second on the Ladies European Tour’s Henderson Money List following her fourth place finish at last week’s AIB Ladies Irish Open.
Reid, now in her third season as a professional, was the British Amateur Strokeplay champion at Conwy in 2007, while the recent ABN AMRO Ladies Open winner Florentyna Parker was the runner-up and Emma Cabrera-Bello was third.
With a prize fund of £300,000 and a winner’s cheque for £45,000 the event has attracted some of the biggest names in women’s golf including Laura Davies, the 2004 champion Trish Johnson and 2001 winner Helen Alfredsson.
S4C television coverage begins on Golffio, Wednesday, August 11, at 10.25pm with daily highlights on Thursday and Friday at 10pm, Saturday at 10.10pm and Sunday at 9.55pm. There is also live coverage of the final round on Sunday, August 15, from 2pm-5.45pm.