|Second year LET member Cathryn Bristow
For Cathryn Bristow, the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open is her favourite week of the year.
The 29-year-old North Harbour professional, who last year qualified again for a full card on the Ladies European Tour in 2014, is excited about coming home for the championship from January 31 to February 2 at the Clearwater Golf Club.
“It's one of my favourite events to play all year,” said Bristow. “It's the only time I get to play at home, and I love the support I receive from the Christchurch community even though I’m from Auckland.
“I love playing in front of New Zealanders and being in my own country. I’m very proud to be representing New Zealand on the LET.”
Bristow is one of several young Kiwi professionals alongside Northland’s Caroline Bon and Waikato’s Emily Perry who are looking to make an impression in the ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open which sees a world-class field headlined by World No.4 Lydia Ko.
She had a trying year in her first season on the Ladies European Tour. She finished 139th in the 2013 Order of Merit, missing the cut in 10 of her 12 tournaments.
“Last year was a very tough season for me. I missed multiple cuts but still found myself loving what I was doing and wanting to continue to work hard and get better. It made me appreciate the good days a lot more. I found it important to believe in myself and the things I was working on because when things aren't going well, it's so easy to think too much, and get in my own way.”
Despite the demanding start to her time on the LET, Bristow responded under pressure. She secured her card in the final qualifying event in Morocco.
The left-hander finished 15th after rounds of 70, 74, 70, 70 and 75 to earn one of the final 31 cards.
“It was a great feeling to perform so well at LET Q school, especially after such a hard year on tour. I was at LPGA Final stage and didn’t gain my card so I knew this was my last chance to play one of the main tours again in 2014.
“I felt a lot of relief once it was done but also extremely proud of myself for fighting until the last event of the year.”
Her goal for 2014 is to keep her LET card but her immediate focus is playing well over the next few weeks on the ALPG and in particular the NZ Women’s Open.
Bristow enjoys the challenge at the Clearwater Golf Club and is hoping for a better result in the quality field in 2014.
“Clearwater is a fantastic course, the holes can be challenging, especially when the wind is blowing, but it’s a course that offers birdie chances and reward if you play well.
“The course is always presented immaculately, with perfect greens and as a visual spectacle, there aren’t many better. The 18th is a great finishing hole for the golfers, but also for the spectators, it provides great viewing from the clubhouse. My performances previously haven’t been good enough so this year I want a strong performance there.”
Bristow, relative to NZ professional and defending champion Ko, will enjoy a week beneath the radar in Christchurch.
The down-to-earth Huapai golfer has been inspired by Ko’s incredible climb up the world golf rankings.
“Lydia's performance over the last few years, have been pretty spectacular. I think when I left NZ to go to the US for university, she was eight years old!
“I have watched her results from a far and she deserves all the accolades and recognition she is receiving. She is flying the NZ flag on the global stage and it seems that she is unfazed by it all. I hope she continues her success for many years to come and hopefully I will have the chance to meet her and congratulate her in person.”