|Caroline Afonso |
Last year’s LETAS No.1 Caroline Afonso will look to continue her strong record as she hopes to defend her 2010 title, which, along with the La Nivelle Ladies Open, was one of two tournaments won on home soil last year.
Afonso clinched the title by two shots last year over Ana Larraneta and Sophie Sandolo in the inaugural staging of the event at at Golf de Terre Blanche near Cannes on the Côte d’Azur.
Stars of the Ladies European Tour in the field also include Italian Veronica Zorzi, the two-time French Open champion, who has been practising in Mauritius ahead of the new Ladies European Tour season.
Zorzi explained: “I am going to play in France on LETAS, because I think it is good "warm up" before playing in Morocco, which will be my first tournament on the LET in 2011. I've never played at Terre Blanche before, but from the web-site it looks like a great place and nice golf course. It is not too far-away from Italy where I live and I can be there in five hours.”
She added that her goals for 2011 are to qualify for the Evian Masters presented by Société Generale, the Ricoh Women’s British Open and for the US Women’s Open. She continued: “I've taken a good break from golf and that’s the reason I didn't go to Australia. I worked hard in the gym over the last month and also on my short game.”
Other LET stars teeing up at Terre Blanche are Sophie Giquel-Bettan, the 2007 Ladies Open de Portugal champion, three-time LET event champion Ludivine Kreutz of France, who represented Europe at The 2005 Solheim Cup and England’s Kiran Matharu, a runner-up at the 2007 Nykredit Masters in Denmark.
The field also includes a number of first year players from the Ladies European Tour, many of whom will be making their professional debuts. They include the 16-year-old Czech player Klara Spilkova, the LET’s youngest ever member, who qualified at Tour School in December and is still studying at high school in Prague.
“My goal is to play as good as I can, to make cuts and finally to win at least one tournament,” said Spilkova, who started to play golf aged four with her brother Lukas at at Golf Club Erpet Praha, before earning an exemplary amateur record, which includes victories at the 2010 Austrian and Czech women’s amateur championships.
“I am very excited. Being a professional has always been my dream. I am looking forward to a completely new experience. It is my first tournament of this season and I would like to play in a new environment. I will try to play my best golf and I am very much looking forward to the season.”
She is joined by fellow LET rookies Bénédicte Toumpsin from Belgium, Lucie André and Marion Ricordeau of France, Chrisje de Vries and Marieke Nivard from the Netherlands and Melanie Maetzler from Switzerland.
The competitors will play for a purse of €25,000 and will be able to enjoy first class practice facilities at Terre Blanche.
There is a fantastic new driving range, where players will be able to practise ahead of the first event of the season. Once again the LET Access Series has attracted an international field of competitors from 21 different nations including those as far afield as Serbia, Estonia, Tunisia and Morocco.