Scotland’s Sally Watson will be looking to take advantage of Amy Boulden’s absence over the next fortnight in China in order to overtake her in the race to be named the Ladies European Tour’s Rookie of the Year.  

The 23-year-old from Elie is visiting China for the first time having received invitations to play in both the Sanya Ladies Open and Xiamen Open, whereas Boulden’s exemption category from last year’s qualifying school doesn’t allow her to participate.

“I’m very excited. It’s a place I learned a lot about through my international relations major so it’s exciting to be here for the first time and experience the culture and have some good Chinese food,” Watson said.

With four tournaments remaining on the 2014 Ladies European Tour schedule, Watson is currently 11,296.54 euros behind Boulden on the order of merit, which means that the Scot needs to finish either fifth in Sanya, or fourth in Xiamen, to leapfrog the Welshwoman. Otherwise two tenth place finishes would see her earn 11,000 euros and almost get the job done.

“It’s definitely a nice opportunity but it’s always nice to have Amy in a tournament. You want that competition and she’s definitely pushed me to continue to work hard at my game and try and get better and that’s a good thing,” said Watson. “But it’s an opportunity for me and hopefully I can capitalise on that this week.

“I’ve been very lucky to get some invitations to the final events of the season. I was hoping my good finish at tour school last year would have helped me get in but obviously it wasn’t quite enough.

“I tried to write a nice letter and to say how important it was to me to have the opportunity to come and play in China for the first time. I did learn a lot about it in school so I was looking forward to the opportunity to come here and I’m very grateful for the invitations and hopefully I can make the most of them.”

Whilst studying International Relations at Stanford University, under the guidance of her academic advisor, the former US Secretary of State Professor Condoleezza Rice, Watson learned about “China’s growing importance in the world.” Therefore she was excited to follow the APEC Summit earlier this week in Beijing, attended by US President Barack Obama.

Now she has turned her focus fully to competing in the Sanya Ladies Open, taking place over three rounds at Yalong Bay Golf Club in tropical Hainan from Friday, where she will be looking to improve on her season best ties for third place in the Allianz Ladies Slovak Open and Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open respectively.

After 16 events played this year, Watson has racked up four top ten finishes and is lying in 26th position on the order of merit, whereas Boulden is sitting in 22nd place after 13 events.

“I think the rookie class is very strong this year and you only get one chance to win the rookie of the year prize in your professional career, so it would be a nice Christmas present,” Watson added. “If not, I’ve had a great year and really enjoyed myself and so I’ll take that all forward into next year.”

No matter what her results are in China, she will have another two chances to regain pole position in the rookie race: at the Hero Women’s Indian Open and the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, where the leading rookie will be named on December 13.