|The two players are part of a glittering cast at the inaugural World Ladies Championship at Mission Hills Haikou in Hainan.|
The two players are part of a glittering cast at the inaugural World Ladies Championship at Mission Hills Haikou in Hainan
England’s Melissa Reid and South African Lee-Anne Pace will resume their friendly rivalry at this week’s World Ladies Championship in Hainan, China, starting on Friday.
The players will not only be competing for themselves in the 54-hole professional individual stroke play tournament on The Vintage Course at Mission Hills Haikou, but they will also be competing for the pride and honour of their respective countries, with 20 pairs in the simultaneous team competition.
The format of this tournament is unique on the Ladies European Tour schedule and the players are excited to test their skills in this interesting new format.
There is already a remarkable atmosphere at the impressive venue, which hosted The 56th World Cup of Golf in November, with the players comparing it to such an event.
“I haven’t played in a World Cup, unfortunately, but it does have that aspect to it with all the teams playing against each other. I think they are aiming to make it more like the Olympic Games this week so maybe it’s going to be a warm up towards that,” said Pace, the Ladies European Tour’s Money List winner in 2010, who will be paired with last year’s Portugal Ladies Open winner Ashleigh Simon in the team competition.
“It definitely has a good feel to it. I think consistency is going to be key, because if you have two good players who are consistent every day, then obviously they are going to do well or they are going to win. Sometimes in a better-ball structure or a four-ball or foursomes you can get a little lucky and one carry the other, so I think it’s a very good format for a world championship.”
|Reid and Pace outside the Mission Hills Spa
Reid, who finished second on the LET’s 2011 money list, will represent England with Florentyna Parker in the team format. “It’s weird, playing a team event but never really playing with your partner. It’s going to be interesting but I’m just seeing it as a normal tournament,” said Reid, who won twice on the LET last year in Spain and the Netherlands. “I’ve never really done that format before.”
Of the 108 players in the field, representing 25 different nationalities, China’s own World number 12 Shanshan Feng is considered the favourite for both the individual and team titles.
Reid said: “I think England has got a good chance and China is really the one to beat this week. Shanshan is obviously a great player. I was talking to Shanshan about it last week and we were saying it would be a good battle this week here in China.”
Pace, who won the 2010 Sanya Ladies Open in Hainan, was quietly confident for South Africa. “I think we have a pretty good chance. Ashleigh is a pretty good player and always consistent. I’m playing quite well at the moment and played okay in Australia.”
In the team event, Feng will be joined by compatriot Liying Ye, who competes on the Japanese LPGA Tour and was runner-up to Annika Sorenstam at the 2008 Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open.
In the second Chinese team, Yuyang Zhang joins Jiayun Lee. Zhang became China’s first representative on the Ladies European Tour when she earned her playing card at the LET’s Final Qualifying School at La Manga Club in Spain in January and will be competing in her first Ladies European Tour event as a member.
The tournament will be played over three rounds from Friday 2 to Sunday 4 March, with a cut to the top 50 professionals and ties after 36 holes, although even if they miss the cut, those in the team event will also play on Sunday.
Weather conditions on Tuesday were cool at 15 degrees Celsius with light rain, but tropical temperatures are expected to return for Thursday's Pro Am before the main tournament begins.