The Robe di Kappa Ladies European Tour (LET) returns to Chart Hills GC in Kent this week for the €165,000 Ladies English Open (LEO), from July 8-10.

Defending Champion Maria Hjorth

With a host of other experienced Solheim Cup stars in the Ladies English Open field as well as some keen young hopefuls from Europe, they will face a tough but fair challenge this week.

Linda Wessberg from Sweden, Gwladys Nocera from France, Italian Veronica Zorzi and Finland’s Minea Blomqvist, will all be eager to enhance their bids for Solheim Cup debuts.

Matthew, from Edinburgh, who holed the winning putt for Europe at Barsebäck G&CC in Sweden in 2003, will be a stern contender for the English title, as will Meunier-Lebouc from Dijon.

Like Stupples and Davies, the French woman is a proven major winner having claimed victory at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2003.

Yet all will have a tough task to beat the records set by the defending champion Hjorth, who stormed to a six shot victory over Joanne Mills from Australia at last year’s Ladies English Open.

The tall blonde Swede finally had her breakthrough victory after eight years as a professional with a stunning course record equalling 64 in the final round last year. She finished at nineteen-under-par for the tournament and in doing so broke the eight-year-old Tour record for a 54-hole total. With that exciting finish, she earned a place in the $2.5 million Evian Masters and the £1.04 million Weetabix Women’s British Open at Sunningdale three weeks later.

Scotland’s Catriona Matthew

“I hit a five iron to make eagle on the first so after a good drive on the second I took five-iron again. After that I knew it was just a question of bounce, but I couldn’t see a thing. Then I heard the crowd clapping and I thought ‘Oh my God, I must’ve holed it.’ It was incredible, I mean, who does that?”

Last year’s Ladies English Open provided just the preparation she needed going into the busiest and most important part of the season.

“Coming to Chart Hills last year and playing so well stood me in good stead for Sunningdale.

“I had my family there watching and I was able to go out with them at night and really enjoy myself.

“I used to think that I had to be away from those situations in order to play at my best. But it proved to me that I could play quality golf and have a good time as well. It gave me the tools I needed to win at Sunningdale.”

This year at the Ladies English Open, a huge amount is at stake once again and it promises to be a thrilling week with so many talented players present.

“Any week can be anybody’s tournament, I came close last year, now I want to win it!” said Stupples.

She added: “I played Chart Hills for the first time last year and I really like it. It’s a lot like an American course in its set up – it’s well bunkered and has water featuring all around the course.

“The Ladies European Tour did a great job with the Ladies English Open at Chart Hills last year and I’m looking forward to playing there again.”