The best of Europe, Australia and New Zealand women’s golf might just have to check their review mirrors for a group of young guns in this week’s Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open hosted by Christchurch, which marks the start of the 2010 Ladies European Tour season.
The second New Zealand Women’s Open tees off at the new Pegasus course north of Christchurch on Thursday, this year boasting $415,000 prizemoney and a full co-sanction tournament with the Australian Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG) and the Ladies European Tour.
That has attracted seven of Europe’s top-10 players and most of Australia’s best, while there’s interest in the professional debut on home soil of Auckland’s Cathryn Bristow, just the third kiwi to qualify for the lucrative US-based LPGA Tour.
Tournament organisers have also invited a number of young hopefuls, many who have advanced from the testing ground of the US collegiate scene on to the LPGA as well as some leading prospects.
They include Korean-born Australian Misun Cho, the Pepperdine University graduate who finished second overall in the Duramed Futures last year, to earn her promotion to the LPGA.
Other exciting young hopes include the Korean LPGA rookie of the year He Young Choi, two-time Espirito Santo world amateur winner Pernilla Lindberg of Sweden, who is a rookie this year on the LET and the LPGA, and the recent Royal Canberra Ladies Classic champion Kristie Smith of Australia, who is a rookie this year on the Ladies European Tour.
Graduates from the Duramed Futures development tour to the LPGA also includes Ireland’s Alison Walshe, a Curtis Cup player in 2008 and Dewi Claire Schreefel of the Netherlands, the Dutch and Italian Amateur champion who won the NCAA title.
There are also some established LPGA professionals who will add to the Open including Diana D’Alessio, who has won US$1.2m over a 10 year career; Canada’s Lorie Kane, with four wins on the LPGA and nine top-10s in majors, Becky Morgan from Wales and Jane Park (Korea) a former US Amateur winner and has two seconds earning US$1m in her four years on the LPGA.
“It is a fantastic field with real quality,” said tournament promoter Bob Tuohy. “We have winners of eight tournaments in Europe last year, a former world No 1 in Laura Davies, our defending champion Gwladys Nocera, four Solheim Cup players and most of the best Australians who are doing well around the world....more