Australian LET rookie Kristie Smith

Graduates from the Duramed Futures development tour to the LPGA also includes Ireland’s Alison Walshe, a Curtis Cup player in 2008 and Dewi Claire Schreefel of the Netherlands, the Dutch and Italian Amateur champion who won the NCAA title.

There are also some established LPGA professionals who will add to the Open including Diana D’Alessio, who has won US$1.2m over a 10 year career; Canada’s Lorie Kane, with four wins on the LPGA and nine top-10s in majors, Becky Morgan from Wales and Jane Park (Korea) a former US Amateur winner and has two seconds earning US$1m in her four years on the LPGA.

“It is a fantastic field with real quality,” said tournament promoter Bob Tuohy. “We have winners of eight tournaments in Europe last year, a former world No 1 in Laura Davies, our defending champion Gwladys Nocera, four Solheim Cup players and most of the best Australians who are doing well around the world.

“We have also given some invitations to this group of very talented young graduates, many of them with success in the US college scene, and without doubt a number of them will become real stars of the women’s game.”

New Zealand Golf will have interest in their amateur line-up in action this week, with the country’s two most exciting young prospects, Cecilia Cho and Lydia Ko both teeing up together for the first time in New Zealand colours.

Ko, 12 (Pupuke), the current North Island champion and runner-up in last year’s New Zealand Amateur, gained her citizenship in December.

Cho, 15 (Pakuranga), the amateur golfer of the year in 2009 with 15 individual titles, has just received her citizenship and both will want to push their claims for New Zealand selection with the Queen Sirikit Cup Asia Pacific championship next month and the Espirito Santo world amateur later in the year.

Two local Christchurch players will also be celebrating after they earned the final two spots in the field after qualifying in the New Zealand Professional Women’s Golf organisations’s Pro Am a Clearwater on Sunday.

Becky Walsh (Waitikiri) and Lynne Shaskey (Rawhiti) were the two best scores from the players who had not already gained entry, and will enjoy the highlight of their careers in front of friends and family this week.

The Pro-Am takes place on Wednesday with the tournament proper commencing on Thursday.

The Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open hosted by Christchurch is the first of a three-tournament swing for the ALPG and LET ahead of the ANZ Ladies Masters at RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia and the HANDA Women’s Australian Open at Commonwealth Golf Club in Melbourne.

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