Linda Henriksson Credit: Matthieu Joffres/TLMALP
This week, the LET Access Series is in Finland, for the playing of the EVLI Ladies Finnish Open. Played at the Hillside Golf Club in Vihti, Finland, the purse on offer is €35,000. With the season entering the second half of play, the race for the Order of Merit is in full swing.
We caught up Meghan Maclaren and Linda Henriksson (ranked second and fifth respectively on the OOM) on the eve of the tournament to discuss their season so far.
Maclaren who is having a stellar season so far, backed up a win at the Azores Ladies Open earlier in the season with a 3rd place finish at the VP Bank Ladies Open. She then followed it up last week by becoming one of the four to earn a spot through sectional qualifying (for Europe) at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club, near London. The 23-year old shot 69, 76 to make the field for this year's United States Women's Open Championship, to be held at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J, between July 13-17.
“I'm still getting my head around getting into the US Women's Open. Of course playing in the majors has always been part of the long term plan, but I've been so focused on the process this year - playing regular tournaments, improving my game, taking advantage of being based near my support team - that I hadn't really thought about what it would mean to qualify. I'm unbelievably excited and can't wait to test myself against the best in the world.”
Heading into the ELVI Ladies Finnish Open, she spoke about her time playing in Finland as an amateur apart from what she expects at the Hillside Club.
“I've played once before in Finland, when the European Ladies Individual was held there, but it was at a different course. I heard lots of people comment on how good this course normally is, so I'd been looking forward to it. I think it's been a tough winter for the course, but most of it is still in good shape and I think it'll provide a good test. You have to stay patient and know which holes to try and attack and which ones to play more conservatively. If the wind gets up that will definitely make things tougher.”
As for Henriksson, this is a homecoming of sorts. The resident of Helsinki, Finland was a winner at the VP Bank Ladies Open in Switzerland, finishing ahead of Maclaren.
“This home event has always given me an extra energy and confidence boost for the rest of the season. It makes a big difference now that it is played earlier in the season. My new coach [Pasi Purhonen] will most likely be there to see what I'm doing on the course and will give me some valuable feedback. It's also great to get to sleep in my own bed during the event. “
Henriksson, who is in her sixth year on the LETAS, played the tournament course a while ago and gave a picture of what to expect over the 54-hole tournament.
“I played the course a few weeks ago and there was damage on most of the greens because of a tough winter. The head greenkeeper [Tommi Turunen] who is one of the best in Finland, has done an amazing job. The greens are a lot better and fast now. The course is quite simple but its length and windy conditions make it challenging.”
The tournament course known as the Valley Course will play 5,536 yards with four par-fives, five par-threes and nine par-fours, allowing for plenty of scoring opportunities given conditions. Both Maclaren and Henriksson play together tomorrow during round one and will be joined by Camilla Hedberg of Spain.