|France’s Gwladys Nocera|
That said, Hauert admitted that she had hit fewer greens than in previous years in 2007, her most successful year on Tour. The key to her improvement lay in her short game. She said: “All the pieces came together in a nice picture. I kept on working, making the puzzle a bit bigger, maybe, getting a much better picture.”
Hauert is joined in the 156-player field by Gwladys Nocera, the number three ranked player on the Ladies European Tour in 2007. Nocera was confident about her chances in the tournament after a strong 2007 campaign which included two wins, in the Netherlands in June and in India in December.
The two-time Solheim Cup player from France carried that form into 2008 by finishing fifth alongside Virginie Lagoutte-Clement in the Women’s World Cup of Golf in South Africa a fortnight ago.
England’s Laura Davies did not play in the World Cup, but began her season in the perfect fashion with a victory in last week’s New South Wales Open.
The seven-time European number one is aiming for a strong start to the Ladies European Tour’s season, having won the UNIQA Ladies Golf Open in 2007.
“It is the start of the European Tour. It is nice to try and get a few early Solheim Cup points on the board,” said Davies, who won this event in 2004. “I love playing down here. The people have always been really nice to me. It is almost like a second home. That’s the way I feel when I come down here.”
Meanwhile, the 2005 US Open champion Birdie Kim arrived at the tournament in time for her 12.55pm tee-time in Thursday’s first round.
The Korean, who requested an invitation to play in the event, had been stranded in New Zealand where she had been practising before her arrival, having not obtained a visa for entry into Australia.
The second highest ranked player in the tournament, after Karrie Webb at world number three, is Ji-Yai Shin, 19, from Korea, who is the World number seven.
Shin was the number one player on the 2007 KLPGA points list and won nine tournaments last season. She also finished second playing alongside Eun Hee Ji at the Women’s World Cup a fortnight ago and has been hailed as the next Se Ri Pak.
Shin said: “I’m very confident and comfortable so I’ll try my best. It’s a fantastic course and very different to Korea.”
Like Webb, Shin will be one of the favourites to win the AUD$75,000 first prize at the AUD$500,000 tournament, which begins tomorrow.
The defending champion Webb will tee off at 8am in Thursday’s first round and at 12.45pm on Friday, before the cut to the leading 65 professionals and ties.