Leading first year Ladies European Tour professionals Charley Hull and Holly Clyburn expect a tough battle for the Rookie of the Year Award as they prepare to tee up in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters from Wednesday.
After a tie for fifth place in the Hero Women’s Indian Open in Delhi on Saturday, Hull moved €11,336.39 clear of Clyburn on the ISPS HANDA Order of Merit, meaning that Clyburn would need to finish in at least eighth place or better to eclipse the 17-year-old if Hull misses the cut. Germany’s Ann-Kathrin Lindner also has a theoretical chance of winning the rookie title, but would need no less than a win in Dubai.
Both have their eyes on the €75,000 first prize in the Ladies European Tour’s season-ending event at Emirates Golf Club. On the eve of the tournament, Hull said that she would love to cap her first year as a professional with her maiden win, after nine top ten finishes, including five straight seconds to open her career.
The Northamptonshire star said: “It would just top off everything I’ve done this year, because I’ve had a lot of top tens and I think nearly every tournament, so it’s been great. To win is what I would really like because it proves to myself that I can win and not just finish second.”
Lincolnshire’s Clyburn, 22, who has already won the Deloitte Ladies Open in Holland on the LET and recorded two additional top ten finishes, including third in Scotland, feels ready to win for a second time this season and said: “I feel in my comfort zone. The course is fantastic: it’s nice and long and wide in parts and the rough is a good length.”
Hull is well aware of Clyburn’s talents, as they have been competing in the same golf tournaments since they were 10 years old and even won the Curtis Cup together as members of the GB&I team at Nairn in 2012.
“I remember first playing with Holly when I was 11 and we actually halved our match. I remember having about a five-foot putt on the last to beat her and I missed it,” Hull said. “For English golf, I think it’s fantastic.”
Hull’s talents came to worldwide prominence when she made her debut as the youngest ever member of a Solheim Cup team in August and she gave a tremendous performance as part of the first European team to win on US soil.
As a result, she has been nominated for several awards, including Sunday Times and BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year, as well as BT Sport’s Action Woman of the Year.
Regardless of whether she wins in Dubai, she will be one to watch on the Ladies European Tour next year as she has decided to stay and compete on the circuit rather than travel to LPGA Qualifying School, even though she was offered a special exemption on account of being under 18.
“I didn’t want to miss my childhood, see my friends, going out, having a good time,” said Hull, continuing: “I want to enjoy my life which I’m enjoying at the moment.
“I think it’s amazing to see all different cultures and stuff which you see on the Ladies European Tour because you go to different countries every week, which is fantastic.”
To vote for Charley in the BT Sport Awards click here and voting is open until January 19.