Isi Gabsa Photo: Rui Caria
Isi Gabsa returns to Terceira Island Golf Club to attempt to win the the Azores Ladies Open title that escaped her narrowly in 2013 and also to return to the top of the LETAS Order of Merit.
Two seasons ago, when the event was last held on the island of Terceira, the German, then 18, finished in 2nd place tied with Spain’s Mireia Prat who topped the LETAS rankings at the end of the 2013 season. Both players finished three shots behind Switzerland's Fabienne In-Albon, who went on to earn her LET card for 2014.
Since then Gabsa has matured as a player, earning two titles on LETAS this year at the PGA Halmstad Ladies Open in Sweden and the Drobak Ladies Open held in Norway.
These two wins took Gabsa to the top of the ranking, but the German was later dethroned by her compatriot Olivia Cowan, who in January won the 85th International Amateur Championship in Portugal in Palmela and in the following months became only the second player in LETAS history to win three titles in the same season.
The two German players are separated by 3,434 points and the Azores Ladies Open champion will earn 5,000 points, whilst 2nd place gains 3,700.
Olivia Cowan, the current number one, is the only player in the top-ten of the LETAS Order of Merit not to travel to the island of Terceira, which means that for the second consecutive year, nine of the ten best players will compete at the Azores Ladies Open, which is organised by Stream Plan with the support of the Azores Tourism Association and the Azores Golf Islands.
"The high competitive level of the Azores Ladies Open, which over the last five years has brought to the Autonomous Region great players in European women's golf, is in itself evidence of the notoriety of this competition," said Victor Fraga, the Regional Secretary of Tourism and Transport in the Azores.
The member of the Regional Government stressed that "Alongside the sporting aspect, of great importance, golf is also and primarily a tourism product of high multiplier effect, which motivates an annual turnover of millions of people worldwide, generating tourist flows - especially in low and middle seasons - very important for the economic sustainability of tourist destinations and to mitigate the seasonality. "
A field of 61 players will compete during the Azores Ladies Open, coming from the following countries: Sweden, Scotland, Germany, Finland, Spain, Holland, England, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Italy, Iceland, Brazil, Norway, Poland, Swaziland, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Portugal.
The time of year when the tournament takes place is key. Being the penultimate stage of the LETAS season, the players only have over the last two tournaments to try to finish the season in the top five of the Order of Merit and thereby automatically qualify for the Ladies European Tour in 2016.