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CARLY FROST
Editor
Ladies Golf Today

Carly's blog - news and views on the world of ladies' golf
December 20, 2014


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Good luck girls!

As I write my blog England star Georgia Hall has taken a resounding lead in the LET Lalla Aicha Tour School Final Qualifying with a fantastic first three round score of 12 under par. Georgia, the former British Amateur Champion and two-time Olympic Gold medallist, is among 120 players from all over the world, representing the finest young female prospects in golf, who are competing in the sunshine of Morocco in a bid to secure their Tour card for the Ladies European Tour 2015.

The LET Lalla Aicha Tour School Final Qualifying is being played on the Samanah Course, followed by Al Maaden in Morocco – concluding this weekend. Competitors are playing two rounds on each course, before the cut to the leading 60 players and ties after 72 holes. The final round is being played on the Samanah Golf Course on Sunday.

After the final round the top 30 players and ties will get their cards.

I wish all of our British hopefuls good luck and fingers crossed that the putts drop and they get their cards.

Here's some interesting Tour School facts by numbers...

120 - Number of Players in the Field

21 - Number of players who have amateur status heading into the week

60 (and ties) - Number of players who will make the cut after 72 holes

30 (and ties) - Number of places available in Category 8a

32 - Number of countries represented this week

17 - Number of players from England and Sweden

10 - Number of players from Spain

7 - Number of players from Italy and Finland

6 - Number of players from France

5 - Number of players from Australia, Germany and USA

4 - Number of players from China, Scotland and South Africa

3 - Number of players from Colombia and Switzerland

2 - Number of players from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland and India

1 - Number of players from Brazil, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Malaysia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Norway, Puerto Rico, Swaziland and Thailand

PRO NEWS

Charley Hull wins Ladies European Tour's Order of Merit

Charley Hull has made history as the youngest winner of the 2014 Ladies European Tour ISPS HANDA Order of Merit title, just 12 months after being named Rookie of the Year.

The 18-year-old from England capped her second season on tour with a tied fifth place finish in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters on the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club. With season's earnings of €263,096.69, she finished €29,808 ahead of second placed Gwladys Nocera.

“It's good to win,” said Hull. “I didn't really know coming into this week. Yeah, just the back nine today, I just thought don't make any silly mistakes. I doubled the first but got two birdies on the bounce back so pretty happy with myself there.

“I went double, birdie, birdie, bogey, birdie. So it was an interesting front nine. But towards the end of the back nine, I really got the feeling with my woods off the tee. I started feeling so much more confident. Just working on getting a bit more width on my swing. I definitely feel a lot more confident.”

Hull, who was the youngest woman ever to compete in the international Solheim Cup matches in 2013, continued to impress in 2014.

On March 16, four days before her 18th birthday, she won her first professional title at the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco. She went on to record eight additional top 10 finishes during the season. This included two seconds at the Sanya Ladies Open in China and Ladies German Open presented by Marriott, as well as third in the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open.

Amy Boulden wins Ladies European Tour's OMEGA Rookie of the Year Prize

Amy Boulden capped her first season as a professional by winning the Ladies European Tour's OMEGA Rookie of the Year prize.

The 21-year-old from Llandudno in Wales led the rookie rankings heading into the OMEGA Dubai Ladies Masters, the final tournament of the 2014. With her tied 24h place finish, she held off the challenge of her nearest rivals, Sally Watson of Scotland and Nicole Broch Larsen from Denmark, to earn a beautiful OMEGA Speedmaster chronograph with a white mother-of-pearl dial, a diamond-paved bezel and a white leather strap.

“It's been a really great first season on the Ladies European Tour,” said Boulden, who won the Association Suisse de Golf Ladies Open on the LET Access Series in May.

“It was one of my goals from when I turned pro, to win Rookie of the Year. I thought it was going to be quite tough this year not having a full card. I wasn't sure how many events I was going to be playing in but starting the year well has helped me a lot. It's a real honour to win and join the prestigious list of former winners, including Laura Davies, Annika Sorenstam and Charley Hull.”

Boulden was one of the top performers in 2014 and recorded four top 10 finishes including a second place at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France.

She finished third at the Sberbank Golf Masters in the Czech Republic, fourth at the Ladies German Open presented by Marriott and 10th at the Tenerife Open de España Femenino.

With season's earnings of €83,982.17, she finished 18th on the 2014 Order of Merit, five places ahead of the second placed rookie Watson.

The Ladies European Tour congratulates Amy on a fantastic start to her professional career.

First Tiger… and now Tigress on top of the world

Cheyenne Woods followed in the footsteps of her famous uncle Tiger last week when she recreated the iconic images of golf shots flying from the helipad at the top of the Burj Al Arab.

Her visit to the world's only seven-star hotel, with its design mimicking the sail of a ship, took on special significance as it marked the 10th anniversary of Tiger hitting tee shots from the same location.

It was an experience she described “crazy and awesome.”

“It's even more unbelievable than I thought it would be. You hear stories and see pictures online and once you're here in person, it's amazing: the views, the city and how high we are.

“Dubai is the one place that everyone wants to go to. I don't know, it's almost like a fantasy to come here. The photos that you see online and the views, the palm island and the hotels. It's one of the things that was on my bucket list, to come to Dubai. When they had the event here I had to come and see it for myself.

“It's a little surreal to know that Tiger was here 10 years ago in the same spot. It's beautiful. I have seen the photos of Tiger hitting the ball. For me it was even crazier,” said Woods.

Dates for your diaries...

2015 LET schedule:

Feb 12 - 15 AUSTRALIA RACV Ladies Masters * RACV Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia EUR 250,000 € 250,000

Feb 19 - 22 AUSTRALIA ISPS HANDA Women's Australian Open * The Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Black Rock, Victoria, Australia US $1.200.000 € 978,354

Feb 27 - Mar 1 NEW ZEALAND ISPS Handa New Zealand Women's Open * Clearwater Golf Club, Harewood, New Zealand EUR 200,000 € 200,000

World Ladies Championship * US $500.000 € 407,648 World Ladies Championship (Team) * US $100.000 € 81,530

Mar 26 - 29 MOROCCO Lalla Meryem Cup Golf de l'Ocean, Agadir, Morocco EUR 450,000 € 450,000

May 7 - 10 CHINA Buick Invitational * Shanghai Qizhong Garden Golf Club, Shanghai, China EUR 400,000 € 400,000

May 17 - 20 (Wed) TURKEY Turkish Airlines Ladies Open Carya Golf Club, Belek, Antalya, Turkey EUR 500,000 € 500,000

June 19 - 21 NETHERLANDS Deloitte Ladies Open The International, Amsterdam, Netherlands EUR 250,000 € 250,000

July 2 - 5 ENGLAND ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters Buckinghamshire Golf Club, Denham, Buckinghamshire, England EUR 500,000 € 500,000

July 24 - 26 SCOTLAND Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open presented by EventScotland Dundonald Links, Troon, Scotland EUR 500,000 € 500,000

July 30 - Aug 2 SCOTLAND RICOH Women's British Open * The Trump Turnberry Resort, Turnberry, South Ayrshire, Scotland $ 3,000,000 € 2,445,885

Aug 7 - 9 CZECH REPUBLIC Pilsen Golf Masters Golf Park Plzen – Dýšina, Prague, Czech Republic EUR 300,000 € 300,000

Sept 3 - 6 SWEDEN The Helsingborg Open Vasatorps Golf Club, Helsingborg, Sweden EUR 250,000 € 250,000

Sept 10 - 13 FRANCE The Evian Championship * Evian Golf Club, Evian-LesBains, France US $3,250,000 € 2,649,709

Sept 18 - 20 GERMANY The Solheim Cup * Golf Club St. Leon-Rot, Heidelberg, Germany N/A N/A Sept 24 - 27 FRANCE Lacoste Ladies Open de France Venue to be announced EUR 250,000 € 250,000

Oct 8 - 11 CHINA Xiamen International Ladies Open * Xiamen Orient Golf Country Club, Haicang, Xiamen, China EUR 300,000 € 300,000

Oct 16 - 18 CHINA Sanya Ladies Open * Yalong Bay Golf Club, Sanya, Hainan Province, China EUR 300,000 € 300,000

Nov 5 - 7 (Sat) INDIA Hero Women's Indian Open * Delhi, Venue to be announced TBA TBA

Nov 12 - 15 SOUTH AFRICA South African Women's Open * Venue to be announced EUR 350,000 € 350,000

Dec 4 - 6 JAPAN Kowa Queens Cup * (Team Match Play) Miyoshi Country Club, Aichi Prefecture, Japan TBA TBA

Dec 9 - 12 (Sat) DUBAI Omega Dubai Ladies Masters Emirates Golf Club, (Majlis Course), Dubai, U.A.E. US $625,000 € 500,000

- SPAIN Open de Espana Femenino Date and Venue to be announced EUR 350,000 € 350,000

- ITALY Ladies Italian Open Date and Venue to be announced EUR 250,000 € 250,000

- GERMANY Ladies German Open Date and Venue to be announced EUR 250,000 € 250,000

PINK PANTHER RETURNS

Defending Champion Confirms Title Defense at Eighth Edition of HSBC Women's Champions

Singapore's sport fans are in for yet another treat early next year following the announcement that defending champion Paula Creamer will be returning in March to defend her title at the 2015 HSBC Women's Champions. The tournament will return to the impressive surroundings of Sentosa Golf Club from 5 to 8 March 2015.

The 2014 edition of the tournament ended in spectacular style earlier in the year following a two-way playoff between Creamer and Spain's Azahara Munoz, which saw the American sink a 75-foot eagle putt to claim victory and secure her place in the tournament's history.

Speaking about her return to Singapore, the player nicknamed the Pink Panther is hoping that she can pick up where she left off on the Serapong: “I'm still coming to terms with that incredible moment, it was just phenomenal. I felt good all week and when it came down to the wire I managed to do what we all dream of doing when it mattered. It was a very special moment.

“I'm looking forward to coming back to defend my title next year. I've always enjoyed playing in Singapore – I think the course at Sentosa suits my game well. I came close in 2013 and then won this year so [I] will be doing my very best to hold on to the trophy in 2015. Look forward to seeing you in March,” added Creamer.

This year marks the eighth edition of the tournament often referred to as Asia's Major. With a prize purse of US$ 1.4 million and one of the most competitive qualification criteria of any LPGA tournament, spectators can look forward to another elite sporting event in the Lion City.

Global Head of Sponsorship and Events at HSBC Giles Morgan said, “Paula's 75-foot eagle was one of the defining moments of the golfing year and in recent years HSBC Women's Champions has earned a reputation for producing great drama like this. I'm sure there is plenty more in store for next year's showdown in Singapore.

“We're working closely with the tournament organiser to continuously improve the experience for players, spectators and guests to ensure that the tournament lives up to its billing as Asia's Major. We're delighted to announce that Paula will be coming back to Singapore to defend her title in March and look forward to seeing her and the other LPGA Tour players return for what will be another fantastic four days of action on the Serapong.,”

LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan added, “If you polled LPGA players, you would find that the HSBC Women's Champions consistently ranks among their favorite events on Tour. HSBC and Singapore deliver world-class hospitality on a spectacular golf course. Paula's putt in 2014 may be hard to match, but I'm certain that 2015 will bring a tremendous field of LPGA stars, and will likely provide even more fireworks come the final round on Sunday.”

For the third consecutive year, the tournament will be contested over 72 holes of stroke play with no cut on Sentosa's par 72, 6,493 yard Serapong course. The field will once again be made up of 60 LPGA Tour players and three sponsor exemptions, including the winner of the Host Country Qualifying Tournament slated for this January.

Low Teo Ping, President, Sentosa Golf Club added, “We are delighted to welcome back the HSBC Women's Champions for the third time to Sentosa Golf Club. We thoroughly enjoy hosting the world's best women golfers, and it has been very gratifying to see how much they enjoy both the challenges presented by Singapore's best golf course, The Serapong, and all the facilities here at Sentosa.”

Guy Kinnings, Global Head of Golf at IMG, the tournament organizer, added, “The HSBC Women's Champions has established itself as Singapore's preeminent golf tournament and we look forward to raising the bar once again with a number of new developments planned for the 2015 edition. I would like to thank our partners at HSBC for their continued investment in the tournament, our friends at Sentosa Golf Club and all the other sponsors who contribute to make this one of the very best tournaments in Asia. We look forward to another very successful tournament and creating a true showpiece event.”

For more information on the HSBC Women's Champions 2015, please visit the tournament website at www.hsbcgolf.com/womens

Amateur news

Good news as more people are getting into golf

The number of people taking up ‘Get into golf' opportunities grew rapidly over the summer months, according to a new report on grass roots activity across England.

Over 24,000 people, aged 14-plus, were encouraged by counties to take structured coaching courses and to become regular, once-a-week golfers in the six months from April to September 2014.

That's up by 59% on the same period in 2013, says the latest Impact Report on county activity, prepared by England Golf's Participation and Club Support department.

The figures reflect a new focus by counties on delivering structured coaching and regular playing opportunities, rather than one-off taster sessions. This approach is supported by the England Golf Strategic Plan for 2014-17 which sets out to inspire people of all ages to make golf a part of their life and aims to reverse the trend of declining club membership.

Claire Roberts, England Golf's Head of Participation, commented: “We have been very encouraged by the results from this new approach and the closer partnerships which are being created between our county officers and clubs.

“We know there is enormous interest in playing golf and, by working together in this way, we can offer more opportunities for people to become regular golfers and club members.”

The figures are beating targets set by the England Golf Partnership (EGP), which invests in 32 counties to support grass roots golf and grow participation. The results will also be measured by Sport England's Active People Survey which is due out at the end of January.

The report emphasises the club-centred approach adopted by counties and the additional support available through England Golf initiatives such as GolfMark and the Clubhouse online resource. It also outlines a new two-year pilot programme using additional investment and resources to increase membership and participation which is being tested in Northamptonshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire.

Interesting fact...

Of the new players taking up golf, 39% are women, which the report describes as encouraging when compared to the overall number of female golfers in Great Britain (13%).

Carly's countdown to Christmas

Stocking filler...

The bag cover that will keep your clubs dry

An easy way to protect your bag and clubs from the rain is by using the Rainsafe cover.

Made from a lightweight and durable material so it can be used round after round.

Incredibly quick to fold and unfold means no sudden showers will catch you unaware and your bag will soon be fully covered.

The elastic allows for a snug fit around the top and bottom of your bag to stop it slipping away from your bag whilst attached.

The lightweight and packable design allows the Rainsafe to be easily stored in your golf bag until it is needed. The size the cover folds up to takes up minimal space in your golf bags pockets leaving more room for other accessories.

A front pocket allows you to put your scorecard or golfing accessories in their so you have easy access during your round, without having to take the cover off to gain access to your pockets.

A big gift for under the tree

Sun Mountain has launched the first-ever model to combine a trolley, bag and seat in one compact unit.

The three-wheeled Sun Mountain Combo Cart is designed for golfers who would prefer the convenience of keeping their clubs with the trolley and storing at the clubhouse or together in the car boot.

Made from lightweight aluminium, the Combo Cart boasts an extremely strong frame that supports the bag and seat with bodyweight, whilst maintaining a streamlined trolley that takes up no more space than a regular Tour bag when folded.

Sun Mountain – which launched the first stand bag in 1986 and the first waterproof bag in 2007 – has created an innovative design that allows golfers to fold down the unit easily, with the front wheel going under the bag between the rear wheels and the handle down the back of the bag. The rear wheels then slide inwards to produce an impressively sleek unit.

“When folded, the Combo Cart stands up like a normal golf bag and takes up less than half the room normally required to store the trolley and bag separately,” said Seth Enes, Sun Mountain Chief Designer. “It's very easy to put into action too – golfers just have to pull the bottom wheel out, release the rear wheels and set the handle height at a comfortable height. Then you're ready to go!

“Our R&D team has worked hard to come up with a design that allows for the unit to fold up neatly, but also be strong enough to hold the weight of a person when they want to sit down during their round,” he added.The built-in padded seat has been designed to accommodate a range of body sizes and comes complete with back pad to offer maximum comfort. It folds up flat to the side of the bag to keep the overall unit streamlined on the course and in storage. A 14-way top with full-length club dividers is also on offer, as are eight pockets, including a large compartment for clothing, a velour-lined pocket for valuables and a beverage pouch.

The two rear wheels and the smaller front wheel of the Combo Cart are made from asynthetic compound that promotes a smoother roll, while a foot-operated brake enables the golfer to park the trolley on the most uneven of terrains. The Sun Mountain Combo Cart comes in five different colour options – Black/Silver/Red, Black/Orange, Black/Lime, Black and ladies White/Pink/Black – at a RRP of £399. For more information, go to www.brandfusionltd.co.uk

Travel

A Weekend Golf Escape

Gleneagles has launched some special golf offers for 2015.

Located in Perthshire, Scotland, this Luxury 5* Hotel is offering an overnight stay, with a full Scottish breakfast, use of The Club leisure facilities and a round of golf on The PGA Centenary Course, Host Venue for the 2014 Ryder Cup, the masterful King's course or the beautiful Queen's course.

What's included:

· Overnight stay in a beautiful room

· The legendary Gleneagles breakfast

· Full use of the club facilities

· One round of golf per person on one of their three champion courses

Prices:

December 2014 - March 2015 prices from £330 per room per night April 2015 (Available on all 3 courses) - Prices from £455 per room per night May - September (Available on all 3 courses) - Prices from £540 per room per night

*Please note that from November 2014 to March 2015 we will be operating two of our courses. This is to allow essential Winter maintenance. Price based on two people sharing a Classic Room

DISCOVER 101 WONDERS OF SICILY WITH DONNAFUGATA IN 2015

One of Italy's most talked-about new destinations, Donnafugata Golf Resort & SPA offers the perfect place to enjoy a memorable stay in Sicily and the deluxe venue has created an impressive new guide to help guests make the most of their visit in 2015.

Situated in the cultural heart of the Mediterranean's largest island in the province of Ragusa, Donnafugata is the ideal base for a relaxing five-star holiday and the Resort's ‘101 Wonders to Discover' guide gives visitors an invaluable insight into the region's ancient history and many different cultures and traditions, while also highlighting its fantastic all-year-round climate.

From jaw-dropping art and ancient history to spectacular nature reserves and mouth-watering cuisine, Ragusa has it all and Donnafugata serves it up to guests on a plate, as well as offering two 18-hole championship golf courses, an award-winning spa and an array of other five-star facilities.

Located just 15 minutes from Comiso airport and set in the beautiful area of Donnafugata, a natural reserve and famous tourist destination known for the imposing castle which bears the same name, the Resort boasts a number of fantastic historical cities to explore nearby. These include Val di Noto, the heart of Sicilian baroque; Ragusa Ibla, Modica, Siracuse, Noto and Scicli. All are deemed fitting of UNESCO World Heritage status.

Fans of TV detective ‘Inspector Montalbano' can visit famous landmarks made popular by the cult BBC series, sample an array of the region's gastronomic delights – including Modica's world-famous chocolate – or take a trip on the Val di Noto wine route, visiting and tasting high-quality wines at the most important wineries in south-east Sicily.

Ragusa is renowned for its traditions and folklore customs, holding many annual religious ceremonies and festivals including jazz and film, while lovers of the outdoors can indulge in a range of pursuits including fishing, sky diving, hot-air ballooning or exploring the area on and around Europe's most famous volcano, Mount Etna.

Host of the 2011 Sicilian Open and featuring two 18-hole championship courses – the Gary Player-designed Parkland, and the Links – Donnafugata Golf Resort & SPA has won widespread acclaim across the golf industry since opening in 2010, and its newDarren Clarke Centre of Excellence offers a variety of tuition packages and individual lessons for golfers of all abilities aged six and above.

As well as outstanding golf facilities, the Resort has 202 rooms, an award-winning 900mq spa and health club, two swimming pools, two private beaches and three restaurants offering a broad selection of ‘0km food' locally-sourced gastronomic delights, well accompanied by perfect Sicilian wines to enhance flavour.

To view a copy of Donnafugata Golf Resort & SPA's ‘101 Wonders to Discover' guide, go to www.donnafugatagolfresort.com/en/101_wonders_to_discover/

and for more information on the Resort or to book a stay, call 00 39 0932 914 200 or visit www.donnafugatagolfresort.com .








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