|Solheim Cup star Tania Elosegui |
Leading LET stars Tania Elosegui, Anne-Lise Caudal, Virginie Lagoutte-Clement and Ludivine Kreutz have seized their chance to compete in the first event on the LET Access Series (LETAS): La Nivelle Ladies Open.
The 2009 ABN AMRO champion Elosegui, who represented Europe at last year’s Solheim Cup, was a runner-up three times on the Ladies European Tour in 2009 and was third twice. The San Sebastian based player, 28, finished the year ranked fifth on the Henderson Money List with season’s earnings of €193,224.09 from 16 tournaments.
Elosegui, from Spain, will headline the tournament at Golf de la Nivelle near Biarritz in France, from 11-13th February 2010, along with Frenchwomen Anne-Lise Caudal, Virginie Lagoutte-Clement and Ludivine Kreutz, who have together earned six LET titles.
Caudal, 25, from Ciboure near Saint-Jean-de-Luz, will be competing on her home course. She will be looking to claim her first professional title since securing her maiden win on the LET at the 2008 Portugal Ladies Open.
Lagoutte-Clement, 30, from Montelimar, claimed her maiden LET victory at the 2005 KLM Ladies Open in the Netherlands, before collecting her second title at the 2006 Finnair Masters in Finland. Meanwhile, Kreutz, 35, from Poissy, became a first time winner at the 2003 La Perla Italian Open, following up with two additional titles in 2005 at the Tenerife Ladies Open and OTP Bank Ladies Central European Open in Hungary.
|Home talent Anne-Lise Caudal |
Lagoutte-Clement commented: “I decided to play in this Open because… the efforts of the French Federation and the LET to make tournament and to create a second division are to be supported. Even though I do not live close to Biarritz (I am a six hour drive away) the place is lovely and I consider it to have the best golfing spirit in France.
“LETAS is a very good opportunity for many players, those who don't get an LET card for the season. They can play in tournaments and that is very important. But I also think it will benefit the amateur player who will have the possibility to play in a professional tournament and see their future job, because I see a big difference between amateur and professional players (in France).”
In addition to Anne-Lise Caudal, local LET professionals Caroline Afonso and Julie Greciet have already signed up to play. Another player to sign up is rising star Maria Hernandez, from Spain, who finished 10th at the LET’s Final Stage Qualifying School in December. The 23-year-old from Pamplona, the 2009 NCAA Player of the Year from Purdue University, turned professional in June last year and tied for 34th at the US Women’s Open. Many golf insiders believe that Hernandez is the real deal and may even have the talent to qualify for Europe’s next Solheim Cup Team. She finished sixth at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament, where she earned Priority List Category 11 for the 2010 LPGA season. Another LET rookie to sign up is Julie Maisongrosse, from France, who was born in Bogota, Colombia.
The international field presently features players from 14 different countries and the tournament has attracted Mari Suursalu, who has become the first Estonian member of the LETAS. The countries represented by the field of entries are Argentina, Belgium, Denmark, England, Spain, Estonia, England, Wales, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
|Virginie Lagoutte-Clement from France |
The LET Access Series (LETAS) is the official feeder tour to the LET in 2010 and the top player on the 2010 LETAS Ranking will earn membership of the Ladies European Tour for the 2011 season.
The tournaments on the 2010 LETAS schedule initially are La Nivelle Ladies Open at Golf de la Nivelle near Biarritz, due to take place from 11-13 February; Terre Blanche Ladies Open at Golf de Terre Blanche near Nice, scheduled for 31 March-2 April and the Dinard Ladies Open, due to be played at Dinard Golf Club near Rennes from 15-17 April, each with prize money from €25,000 to €30,000. Following the events, three professional golfers and three amateur players will be invited to compete at the Open de France Féminin, scheduled for 9-12 September at Paris International Golf Club.