Virginie Lagoutte-Clement has her eye on the big time and a Solheim Cup debut this September.
The Frenchwoman is currently third on the LET’s European Solheim Cup team standings, from which four players will earn automatic spots on the 12-woman squad. A further four players are taken from the Rolex Rankings, followed by four captain’s selections.
In addition to capturing her third Ladies European Tour victory at the 2010 Aberdeen Ladies Scottish Open presented by EventScotland, the 32-year-old from Montelimar posted five top-five finishes last season, ending the year ranked sixth on the LET’s official Henderson Money List.
At last year’s Lalla Meryem Cup, at Royal Anfa Mohammédia in Morocco, she finished third and hopes to improve on that this week with an early victory at Golf du Soleil in Agadir.
“My main hopes for 2011 are to play The Solheim Cup, to have an early win this season and to stay on the top of the Henderson Money List,” she said. “The Solheim Cup is the main goal this season, but more than just participate, I am working hard to be on top of my game to help the team bring the Cup home.”
Despite a shaky start to the season at the first three events in Australia and New Zealand, Lagoutte-Clement still has plenty of time to shift gears and could even move to second on the Henderson Money List with a victory this week.
She has an advantage on her rivals in that she will feel comfortable as a French speaker but anticipates that she will not hit her best form until mid-summer.
“I am still working on my game but I will be ready for the beginning of the season in Europe. I know that my best golf period is always August to September, as I have had all my victories and many good results over those two months. I improve dramatically when I play a number of tournaments in a row, so it will come soon.
“I am actually working on my downswing, to go straight to the ball with my arms and trying to create like a punch, to improve the regularity at the impact. I will work on my putting as it is the key for this season.”
After the arrival of her first daughter, Victoria, on 17 May 2008, the mum-of-one was particularly delighted with her performances in 2010.
“That was a good season, a good come-back after the birth of my daughter, it was important for me to prove that I am still competitive to a high level. I rediscovered my battling spirit when I needed it and that bodes well for the future.”
Lagoutte-Clement and her husband Sébastien, who is also her caddie, bring Victoria to all of the Ladies European Tour events and the toddler has become a popular character on the circuit, particularly amongst the French players who often act as baby sitters.
“I travel like this for a specific reason that only few people close to me know but I also find it a good combination travelling together, as you are not feeling guilty by leaving your child alone at home. I feel very lucky to be able to travel together. It is a large organisation but Sébastien does it well,” she added.
Victoria began swinging a golf club aged one and she has picked up some good habits already. “She started at one, just when she started walking,” Lagoutte-Clement explained. “She does not play often when we are in tournaments as it hard to do it but she is now using a steel shaft iron as she had broken many of the plastic ones. What is funny is to see her do as the pros: to hit the ball, wash the club, dry the club, and then put the ball on the tee to hit again!”