Players prepare for 2014 Sanya Ladies Open at Yalong Bay Golf Club
Sanya Ladies Open 2014 Pro-Am kicks off at Yalong Bay Golf Club on November 12, 2014
The fifth edition of the Sanya Ladies Open will be played at Yalong Bay Golf Club in Sanya, Hainan, China, from Friday. A total of 120 top golfers from 27 countries and regions will participate, including 55 players from the Ladies European Tour (LET), 33 from the China LPGA Tour, 22 from the Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT) and ten invitations.
The leading players in the field include Charley Hull, Gwladys Nocera, Nikki Campbell, Valentine Derrey, Camilla Lennarth, Florentyna Parker, Trish Johnson, Connie Chen and Kylie Walker.
While last year’s winner Lee-Anne Pace is not playing due to personal reasons, the 2012 winner Cassandra Kirkland has returned and will be hoping to recapture the 45,000 euro first prize.
The 30-year-old from Paris said: “I’ve been playing decent all year, making cuts and top 20s and 30s, but I just need to make a few more putts. Other than that I’m quite happy with my game and I think I can do it again. I’m not putting pressure on myself, but it’s a course that suits me and there’s usually wind, which I love.”
Last year, China’s Yu Yang Zhang earned a career best finish of second after a play-off and she is excited to be back at the tropical venue. “It’s where I’ve been the closest to being a champion in my professional career,” said the 23-year-old third year LET member from Guangzhou. “This is my fourth year here and every year has been a little improvement so I hope this year can be even better.”
Xi Yu Lin is another Chinese player to watch, as she has recorded four top 10 finishes from as many appearances in the event, having fist played in 2010 as a 14-year-old amateur. Now in her second year as a member of the LET and her first year on the LPGA Tour, Lin said: “I like the course and in China there are not too many windy golf courses like this, so it’s tough, but I’m happy to have had a few good scores here.”
Once again, the players are looking forward to testing themselves against the par-72 (36-36) Robert Trent Jones-designed course, which will be set at 6484 yards for the tournament. The first round tees off at 7.15am on Friday, with highs of 29C/84F and a mixture of wind, clouds and sunshine.
Since its inception in 2000, Yalong Bay has successfully staged 13 professional tournaments including the Sanya Open in 2003, 2004 and 2006, the Volkswagen Masters in 2006, Crowne Plaza Open in 2006; the TCL Classic on the PGA European Tour in 2005, 2006 and 2007 as well as the Sanya Ladies Open in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. The course was named as one of the ‘World 100 Best Courses outside the US’ and in ‘China’s Top 10 Golf Clubs’ by American Golf Digest.
Order of Merit still within reach for hull
With just four events remaining in the 2014 Ladies European Tour season, six players still have a chance of winning the Order of Merit. They are top ranked Suzann Pettersen, Shanshan Feng, Charley Hull, Gwladys Nocera, Lee-Anne Pace and Nikki Campbell.
Of the players in Sanya, Hull, Nocera and Campbell all still have a mathematical chance of winning, but third ranked Hull is the best positioned. The 18-year-old from Kettering in England could overtake Pettersen with three victories from four events, in the Sanya Ladies Open, Xiamen Open and Hero Women’s Indian Open. However she is currently not entered for India, therefore she will need two victories, including one in China and one at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, where higher prize money is on offer. Meanwhile, Nocera needs three wins, including Dubai.
Watson looking to overtake Boulden in Rooking Race
Scotland’s Sally Watson will be looking to take advantage of Amy Boulden’s absence over the next fortnight in China in order to overtake her in the race to be named LET Rookie of the Year. Watson is currently 11,296.54 euros behind Boulden, which means that the Scot needs to either finish fifth this week in Sanya, or fourth in Xiamen, to leapfrog the Welshwoman. Otherwise two tenth place finishes would see her earn 11,000 euros and almost get the job done.
Sanya Ladies Open: Numbers to know
10 invited players
60 number of professionals who will make the cut, plus ties
1 past champion (Cassandra Kirkland)
7 2014 LET champions
63 (-9) tournament low score (2013, Nikki Campbell R1 and Jia Yun Li R3)
203 (-13) Lowest winning score (Lee-Anne Pace, 2013)
210 (-6) Highest winning score (Cassandra Kirkland, 2012)
1 play-off (2013)
300,000 prize fund in euros
45,000 first prize in euros
SOURCE: Yalong Bay Golf Club