The Ladies European Tour has moved 11km down the Pacific Highway from Bonville Golf Resort to Coffs Harbour Golf Club this week to contest the Women’s New South Wales Open: a new event on the LET calendar.
The championship was an integral part of the Australian Ladies Professional Golf tour schedule from 2006-2015, when the winners included Dame Laura Davies (2008), Lydia Ko (2012), Caroline Hedwall (2011 and 2013) and Holly Clyburn (2015) at Oatlands Golf Club in Parramatta, a prominent suburb of Sydney.
After a two-year hiatus, the event has returned as a fully co-sanctioned tournament, with a field of 138 players from 33 countries all looking to hoist the trophy.
The tournament will count towards the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit and competitors will accrue valuable Rolex Women’s World Golf Ranking points, which will ultimately contribute towards qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, as well as offering an LET winner’s exemption until the end of 2019. This is the fifth major professional women’s golf tournament in as many weeks in Australia and marks the fourth co-sanctioned event between the LET and the ALPG in 2018.
There are several players looking to carry momentum into their second week in the city of Coffs Harbour, including local Rebecca Artis, Iceland’s Valdis Thora Jonsdottir, Sweden’s Daniela Holmqvist, US-rookie Casey Danielson and England’s Charlotte Thompson, who all finished in the top-10 at Bonville.
Thompson (above), who tied for ninth in last week’s Australian Ladies Classic, said: “I loved the course last week and this week I’m feeling good. The greens here aren’t as grainy, but they are running quite quick, so they are rolling well. It’s a little wet underfoot after the rain but it’s drying out, especially with the wind. It’s fiddly in places and you have to be careful where you hit it, but there are some great birdie opportunities.”
Her namesake Michele Thomson (above), who tied for 40th last week, agreed that Coffs Harbour Golf Club offers a different golfing examination to Bonville. She said: “I’m confident after last week and this is my kind of golf course. The greens are small and the fairways are tight and you’ve got to be accurate with your irons, which I usually am. It’s a completely different golf course to last week but they are both very good and I can’t wait to get started.”
Artis (below), who was born and raised in Coonabarabran, said: “I’m an NSW girl, so it will be nice to play some good golf at the Women’s NSW Open. I went close at Oatlands a couple of years ago, so it would be a real thrill to win my local Open.
“It’s hard to beat Coffs. It is one of the best coastal areas of all of Australia. It’s a spectacular little town.”
The other players expected to be in the mix include Olivia Cowan of Germany, England’s Dame Laura Davies, Jenny Haglund of Sweden and Xi Yu Lin of China.
There are also six French players in the field, including recent winners Camille Chevalier and Isabelle Boineau, who will all have been inspired by their compatriot Céline Boutier’s triumph at the weekend.