The second Ladies European Tour event of 2018 is taking place in the Australian capital of Canberra this week, where 144 competitors from the LET and ALPG Tours have gathered at the highly acclaimed Royal Canberra Golf Club for the inaugural ActewAGL Canberra Classic, starting on Friday.
European number one Georgia Hall, Cheyenne Woods, Xi Yu Lin, Lydia Hall, Meghan MacLaren, Sarah Jane Smith and Amy Walsh took time out from their preparations to visit the National Zoo and Aquarium on Tuesday, where they met some of the most dangerous and endangered species on earth and learned how to help their survival.
Woods, who will be chasing her second crown on Australian soil after she emerged victorious at the 2014 RACV Ladies Masters at RACV Royal Pines Resort, has returned to the venue of her very first tournament in Australia, the Women’s Australian Open, back in 2013. Looking relaxed on Tuesday, she said that she loved getting close to the animals, particularly the lions, wallabies and meerkats.
The American star said: “This week it was cool to be able to come to the zoo and see some of the local animals and get to feed and touch them. It’s a nice break from the golf and being able to enjoy where we are. It’s definitely nice to be back at Royal Canberra. The course is awesome and hopefully I can explore the city a bit more. I would like to build on last week and improve on little things that I’m working on in the lead up to the event. I’m just continuing to enjoy my few weeks in Australia.”
England’s Hall, who finished joint third in last week’s Oates Vic Open in Victoria, a tournament she won in 2016, is making her first visit to Canberra. She said: “I love coming back to Australia and it’s such a great place to play golf. The courses are fantastic and in great condition. I played the front nine at Royal Canberra today and the course looks spectacular. The fairways and greens are in amazing condition and the best I’ve seen in a while so I’m looking forward to playing here.”
Another Englishwoman, Meghan MacLaren, who won the LET Access Series merit in 2017, said: “Australia is a country that I’ve always wanted to come to, so to have four events out here is perfect because we get the time to explore and see a bit of the country. Being in Australia you have a few different animals to see, such as the kangaroos on the golf course.”
Welshwoman Hall, the 2012 Ladies British Masters champion was also enjoying Australia. “It’s nice to explore what the local cities have to offer when we’re out on tour and we had some banter and good fun. Being in Australia definitely beats being at home in the poor weather and we’re enjoying the summer here, so I’m looking forward to the four weeks ahead,” she added.
Hall, Woods, Lin, MacLaren, Smith and Walsh will join a star-studded field which includes former world number one, Jiyai Shin from South Korea, the winner of the 2013 Women’s Australian Open at Royal Canberra, Australians Katherine Kirk and Minjee Lee, who won the Oates Vic Open last week, Scandinavians Caroline Hedwall and Marianne Skarpnord and Britons Laura Davies, Mel Reid, Florentyna Parker and Catriona Matthew.
The ActewAGL Canberra Classic will be played over three rounds from February 9-11 and is the first professional women’s event to be played at Royal Canberra Golf Club since the Women’s Australian Open in 2013, the world-class course having undergone a series of improvements and renovations over the intervening period.