There are 13 German competitors in the field at the 2012 UniCredit Ladies German Open presented by Audi.
The seven German professionals in the field are Steffi Kirchmayr, Caroline Masson, Sandra Gal, Anja Monke, Martina Eberl-Ellis, Miriam Nagl and Elisabeth Esterl.
They are joined by six amateur competitors: Nina Birken, Nina Holleder, Katharina Bohm, Ann-Kathrin Lindner, Quirine-Louise Eijkenboom and Karolin Lampert.
Kirchmayr is one who hopes to make the cut for the first time in the tournament in this, her rookie season as a professional.
The 27-year-old from Nuernberg in Bavaria has played in all four previous editions of the event as an amateur and said: “It’s amazing. This has always been my favourite tournament and as an amateur it’s a huge event. It’s just an hour and a half from where I live so it’s my home state and feels like home.”
Despite being surrounded by friends and family as she plays at Golfpark Gut Häusern near Munich from May 24-27, she says she feels no additional pressure to put on a special performance.
“I’m really looking forward to it because I like the golf course and so many people are coming to watch. I don’t feel any pressure at all. It’s my first year so it’s not like I’ve got to finish top 10,” she said.
Kirchmayr was a relative latecomer to the professional game. After 11 years on the German national team, she spent a year working in hotel management before switching golf coach.
“That was probably the most important thing for me: to switch to a different coach and a different city. I worked the whole year with him on that one goal: to qualify for the European Tour because that was my dream,” she explained.
She turned professional just before Ladies European Tour Qualifying School in January and having made that commitment, earned the fifth card at the final stage earning full status for 2012.
Since then, she has played in three LET tournaments in New Zealand, Morocco and Turkey, with a best finish of 67th at the Lalla Meryem Cup.
“In Morocco, I didn’t finish too well after the cut because I played too aggressive in the third round but it’s the first big step and takes a lot of pressure off,” she explained. “I hope I’m going to make the cut this week. It’s a tough golf course but I hope I’m going to improve.”
Kirchmayr is playing with a taped right wrist and her left forefinger is bandaged this week after she fractured it by trapping it in her finger in her car door last week but insists that it won’t have any effect on her game.
She feels comfortable in the company of fellow German Ladies European Tour players with her friends including Caroline Masson and Anja Monke.
“I played the Ladies German Open all four years now so I knew what to expect and whenever I had a question I just asked the other German girls who have been on tour for a while.”
On the difference between professional and amateur golf, she continued: “I think of course the depth of the field is much deeper. In amateur golf you have 10 or 20 players at the top level and the rest are struggling to make the cut. Here, everyone can make the cut and compete and it’s much more pressure to play for your living rather than points for the amateur ranking and that’s a big difference. You can’t make a mistake here. In amateur golf you make a mistake, then make a birdie and you’re fine again. There is no room for errors in the professional game.”
Masson, who known Kirchmayr since the pair were on the German national team together, is a strong German prospect and she welcomed Kirchmayr to the paid ranks.
“The German clan is not very big on the Ladies European Tour so I’m glad there is another German on Tour and I’ve known her for a long time so I’m glad she’s here. I think she fits in really well,” said 23-year-old Masson, from Gladbeck.
On playing in the German Open, Masson, who tied for fourth in the 2011 event, added: “I’m just looking forward to it because it’s so nice. There are always so many people coming to watch us and it’s always nice to play at home.
“I did well last year so I expect to do well again and hope I can do really well. I think the same for Steffi. She just has to enjoy the atmosphere and being supported by so many fellow Germans. The rest will come. It’s a good course, a nice tournament, just enjoy it and the result will be great as well.”