|Karen Lunn receives her prize from Prince Moulay Rachid in 2012
Australian Karen Lunn is fired up about the prospect of defending her title in the Lalla Meryem Cup this week and hopes that the memories of her victory 12 months ago will help to kick start a great season on the Ladies European Tour.
The 1993 Women’s British Open champion gave a brilliant performance at Golf de l'Océan in Agadir, Morocco, in 2012, carding a final round 66 for a three shot victory over Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord and South African Tandi Cuningham.
It was Lunn’s 10th LET triumph and she is looking to make it 11 when the tournament returns to the venue for the second time from March 28-31.
For the fourth successive year, the event will be played in the same city and during the same week as the Trophée Hassan II on the men’s PGA European Tour: a situation unique in world golf. While the Lalla Meryem Cup will be held at the Golf de l'Océan, the Trophée Hassan II will take place simultaneously at the prestigious Golf du Palais Royal nearby, which lies in the grounds of the Royal Palace of Agadir and is reserved for the sole use of the Moroccan Royal Family, which has long been a generous supporter of golf.
This is where Northern Irishman Michael Hoey will defend his title and where the winning male and female golfers will receive their prizes on stage together following the final round on Sunday night.
“Obviously it's special anytime you return to a place where you have so many wonderful memories,” said Lunn. “The event is even more special as we are hosted by the Royal Family and play the same week as the European Tour.
“This event is without doubt one of the best events on the LET. The golf course is a great test, the hotel is five-star, the food is amazing and the sun is always shining: a huge thanks to the Princess for being such a great host and for her passion for the event and for women's golf. Morocco is a wonderful golf and holiday destination and I would really recommend it for anyone looking for somewhere to go on a golfing holiday or just for some sunshine!”
Regarding her current form, Lunn added: “It is slowing coming back. The end of last year was very disappointing for me and this year the form has been mixed so far. I had a decent finish in China a couple of weeks ago and at times played very well. I just need the putter to get a hot again. My goal is to win again on the LET and to qualify for the British Open at St. Andrews.
“There is no extra pressure really as defending champion but you want to put up a good showing and not give the title away too easily. The goal is to get into contention on Sunday afternoon as it is every week.”
Lunn will be joined at Golf de l'Océan by four-time major champion Laura Davies and fellow Britons Melissa Reid, Carly Booth, Becky Brewerton, Trish Johnson, Felicity Johnson and Lydia Hall, among others who will be looking to accrue valuable Solheim Cup points in the race to Colorado this August.
Gwladys Nocera, Anne-Lise Caudal and Jade Schaeffer will all feel comfortable in French-speaking Morocco, while Slovakia’s Zuzana Kamasova, the LET’s first winner from Eastern Europe two years ago at Golf du Soleil in Agadir, is also in the field.
Added to this is a huge contingent of rookies who qualified to play on the LET at Lalla Aicha Tour School in Marrakech, Morocco, in December, including the phenomenally talented Thai teenager Ariya Jutanugarn, Cheyenne Woods and Morocco’s own Maha Haddioui, from Agadir.
In total, 126 competitors will compete in the Lalla Meryem Cup over four rounds from Thursday to Sunday, with a cut to the leading 60 professionals and ties after round two.
With a purse of €325,000, the winner will take home a first prize of €48,750, and 40 points if they are European and eligible for The 2013 Solheim Cup.
|Friends celebrating with Karen on the 18th green at Golf de l'Océan last year