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Inaugural World Ladies Championships Attracts a World-Class Field
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The playing field for the inaugural World Ladies Championships (WLC), which will take place from Friday 2 to Sunday 4 March 2012 at Mission Hills Hainan has been announced.

Melissa Reid will tee up in China

It includes a number of leading players from the Ladies European Tour (LET), such as England’s Melissa Reid and South African Lee-Anne Pace. Also scheduled to compete are the best Chinese players like Shanshan Feng from the LPGA Tour. Leading amateur Lydia Ko – one of the youngest ever players, male or female, to win a professional event will also participate.

Conceived by Mission Hills, the WLC is a new, ground breaking event designed to support the further development of tournament golf - both in China and around the world - ahead of golf’s return to the Olympics in 2016.

The Championships, to be played on the Mission Hills, Haikou Vintage Course, will adopt a unique three-in-one game format that will see players competing as individuals as well as for the pride of their country. There will be concurrent, 54-hole competitions in three categories - individual professional stroke-play, individual amateur stroke-play and professional teams.

As the event is a stroke-play competition, professional players taking part in the team event will be competing against their playing partners in the solo competition for the Individual Professional title.

The Professional Team competition will see Melissa Reid, who finished second on the LET money list in 2011 and won two LET tournaments, join forces with up-and-coming compatriot, Florentyna Parker.

Reid said: “I'm really excited to be coming to Mission Hills Hainan for the World Ladies Championships. I've never been to Mission Hills before and I've heard so many great things about it that it will be good to finally see it for myself!

Amateur Lydia Ko is in the field

“It's always great to play in a team event. It's something that we don't often get to do once we turn professional. Florentyna and I have known each other since we were about 13-years-old so we go back a long way and we will be very comfortable playing with each other.”

Reid and Parker will face tough competition from South African pair Lee-Anne Pace and Ashleigh Simon, who won the 2011 Portugal Ladies Open. Pace had a fantastic season in 2010 when she won five LET titles and finished top the order of merit.

After posting nine top-ten finishes and three runner-up spots in 2011, she will be keen to break into the winner’s circle again.

Pace said: “I can’t wait to start at the WLC. China is a lucky place for me as I’ve won two championships there already. I’ve heard a lot about Mission Hills, they have excellent courses and state-of –the-art training facilities - all which I look forward to seeing.”

A player who has already made her mark in Hainan is Frances Bondad, who won the 2011 Sanya Open and she will team-up with fellow Australian Nikki Garrett.

Bondad is excited about her chances: “We have a very strong Aussie contingent in Haikou. Not only are we competitive with each other, but very supportive as well. I always play well in China so I could be up there!”

An amateur player grabbing the headlines at the moment is New Zealander Lydia Ko. The top-ranked golfer in the women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), Ko last month became one of the youngest ever winners of a professional tour event with a four-shot victory in the Women’s New South Wales Open. January also saw her become the youngest winner of the Australian Women’s Amateur following a second place finish in the Australian Women’s Stroke Play Championship. She will compete in the Individual Amateur competition as one of eight elite amateurs in the field.

Italian Diana Luna, twice a winner in 2011, is one of the leading players and going to China for the first time

With golf returning to the Olympic Games in 2016, Ko believes that the WLC provides her with a great development opportunity: “I think getting amateurs to play with professionals is only going to be good for the game: it inspires us to work harder and realise that we are not far off their level.

“This only pushes me as a player to work hard and improve my skills more so that when it is time to match it with professional players, I can. The Olympic Games in 2016 has been a goal for me ever since it was announced that golf was returning to the Olympics. To represent my country New Zealand would be an honour.”

Co-sanctioned by the LET and China LPGA Tour, the WLC will offer a total prize purse of US$600,000. Its field will feature 108 elite players, from the LET, as well as the LPGA Tours of the U.S., Korea, Japan and China.

Tenniel Chu, Vice-Chairman of Mission Hills Group said: “On behalf of Mission Hills I am delighted to welcome all the players to the inaugural World Ladies Championships at Mission Hills Hainan.

“Hosting the tournament shows our continued commitment to bring the biggest and best golf tournaments to Mission Hills and to help further develop the game of golf in China.” 

To view the full list of entries click here

Frances Bondad hoping for more success in Hainan after winning the Sanya Ladies Open in 2011

About Mission Hills Group

Mission Hills Group (www.missionhillschina.com), owner and operator of Mission Hills Shenzhen, Mission Hills Dongguan and Mission Hills Hainan, is the pioneer in China’s fledgling hospitality, sports and leisure industry.

Mission Hills recognized as the leading golf brand in the world and synonymous with high-end, luxurious residences of rare and exquisite design, has created two world-class leisure and wellness resorts. It has held more than 100 international tournaments, including the 1995 World Cup of Golf and the Tiger Woods China Challenge in 2001. In 2007, Mission Hills began its role as host of an unprecedented 12 editions of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup.

Mission Hills Hainan

Mission Hills Hainan lies in the volcanic region of exotic Hainan Island, China. The resort sets a new standard in leisure, recreation and wellness experiences. Nestled amid lush, green gardens, it caters to golf enthusiasts and features 10 acclaimed golf courses, each designed by American Brian Curley of Schmidt-Curley Design. Other state-of-the-art features include 518 elegantly designed guest rooms and suites, a three-story clubhouse, China’s first Hank Haney Golf Academy, meeting facilities, 12 world-class restaurants, a fully-equipped sports and recreation center, Hainan’s only aquatic theme park, therapeutic volcanic mineral springs, a spa oasis, and shopping arcade.

Mission Hills Hainan’s Blackstone Course hosted the inaugural Mission Hills Star Trophy in October 2010, a ground-breaking celebrity pro-am golf tournament for Asia, and the 56th World Cup of Golf in November 2011. A magnificent addition to Hainan’s tropical island paradise, Mission Hills Hainan is poised to become the island’s premier sanctuary, attracting visitors from around the globe.

Getting There: Mission Hills Hainan is 15 minutes from Haikou Meilan International Airport (HAK). Flights from major cities throughout Asia -- including Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore -- to Haikou are available.

About the Ladies European Tour:

The Ladies European Tour (LET) is Europe’s leading women’s professional golf tour and formed as the WPGA in 1978, before taking its current title in 2000. Over the last 33 years, the tour has developed into a truly international organisation. In 2012, the schedule features 26 tournaments in 20 different countries, with more than 300 members who represent over 30 different nationalities. For further information please go to www.ladieseuropeantour.com

About China LPGA Tour Introduction

The China LPGA Tour is the only ladies professional golf tour in the country that is officially sanctioned by the China Golf Association and Multi-Ball Games Administrative Center of the General Administration of Sport. 

With a mandate to provide a platform that will develop Chinese female players for careers as professional golfers, in addition to developing players for China’s Olympic team, the strategy of the China LPGA Tour has been developed over the past three years and is now successfully established in the global golf marketplace.

In addition to cooperating extensively with other international golf organizations, the Tour has gone from strength to strength with each passing year and is now recognized as one of the world’s fastest growing circuits.

Since its December 2008 establishment, the China LPGA Tour has developed quickly. In 2009, its inaugural season, six tournaments were held. This was followed by eight events in 2010, and 10 events the following year.

The China Ladies Open, the Tour’s flagship event with a US$250,000 prize purse, has also quickly developed into a tournament with a reputation as a cradle of future champions. Past winners of the tournament, a co-sponsored event with the Korea LPGA Tour, have gone on to star on tours in the U.S. and Europe, capturing Major championships in the process. At the same time, Chinese players developed on the China LPGA Tour have made great progress both at home and abroad.

Feng Shanshan and Ye Liying, in particular, have successfully made the transition to playing on tours overseas. Other Chinese players have made breakthroughs at the Asian Games and the World University Games, both of which are closely related to the development of the China LPGA Tour. With such success, the Tour is meeting its goal of developing top Chinese golf talent.

With its mission to promote the development of ladies golf in the country, the China LPGA Tour aims to organize more than 20 events annually before 2016 in developing future stars and helping China achieve a medal breakthrough at future Olympic Games. 

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