The 2012 tournament champion Christel Boeljon from the Netherlands

A field of 138 competitors from 21 different countries will launch their 2013 season at the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters in Australia this weekend.

The 54-hole strokeplay tournament gets under way at RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast in Queensland from Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd February.

The players – including 13 of last year’s LET tournament champions and 12 rookies making their tour debuts – are relishing the start of the new season.

Despite heavy rain over the weekend, which led to a course closure on Tuesday and Wednesday, the tournament will get under way on schedule.

The top players in the field include last year’s LET tournament winners Carlota Ciganda from Spain (Deloitte Ladies Open and Suzhou Taihu China Open), Caroline Masson of Germany (South African Women’s Open), Scotland’s Carly Booth (Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open and Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open), Australian Stacey Keating (Tenerife Open de Espana and Lacoste Ladies Open de France), Anne-Lise Caudal of France (UniCredit Ladies German Open presented by Audi), Christel Boeljon of the Netherlands (Gold Coast RACV Ladies Masters and Turkish Airlines Ladies Open), Lydia Hall of Wales (ISPS Handa Ladies British Masters), Caroline Hedwall of Sweden (Uniqa Ladies Golf Open), Australian Karen Lunn (Lalla Meryem Cup), Frenchwoman Cassandra Kirkland (Sanya Ladies Open), Jessica Korda of the USA (ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open), Pornanong Phatlum of Thailand (Hero Women’s Indian Open) and South Korean Jiyai Shin (Ricoh Women’s British Open).

The 12 rookie members of the Ladies European Tour in the field, excited to make a fresh start, are Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, who won Lalla Aicha Tour School in December, China’s Xiyu Lin, England’s Emily Taylor, Scotland’s Pamela Pretswell, Camilla Lennarth, Daniela Holmqvist and Jacqueline Hedwall of Sweden, Cheyenne Woods and Mallory Fraiche of the United States, Australians Nikki Campbell, Whitney Hillier and Sarah King.

European Solheim Cup team hopefuls gearing up for the season include Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg and Italians Diana Luna and Giulia Sergas, who are joined by fellow hopefuls Becky Brewerton of Wales and Gwladys Nocera from France, among others in the field.

Former champions Katherine Hull-Kirk and seven-time winner Karrie Webb will attract strong support from their home galleries in Queensland, Australia.

Meanwhile South Koreans So Yeon Ryu and Jiyai Shin, at No.7 and No.8 in the world respectively, are the highest ranked players in the field.

The draw has been released and some of the notable first round morning pairings include:  Webb, Shin and Keating, followed by Australian Kristie Smith, Hedwall and defending ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open champion American Jessica KordaCiganda is paired with Australian Sarah Kemp and American Ryann O’Toole.

In the afternoon tee times for Friday, Ryu, Hull-Kirk and Laura Davies are paired together, while defending champion Boeljon is paired for the first two days with South Korean Chella Choi and Australian Emma De Groot.  South African Lee-Anne Pace, Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn and American Cheyenne Woods are another feature group and tee off at 12.30pm.