Astrid Vayson de Pradenne
The second edition of the AXA Czech Ladies Challenge begins tomorrow at the Golf Resort Konopiste, Bystrice in the Czech Republic.
It is the fifth event of the LETAS season, which has already produced four first time winners. Norway’s Marita Engzelius won the opening event of the season, the Terre Blanche Ladies Open, followed by a win for Noemi Jimenez of Spain at the VP Bank Ladies Open in Switzerland.
France’s Astrid Vayson de Pradenne beat a very strong field at the Jabra Ladies Open, to also earn her LET card and qualify for two Majors this year, The Evian Championship and the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Talented 17-year-old Julie Engstrom from Sweden took home the Viaplay Ladies Finnish Open trophy last week in Finland.
Last year’s champion, Lucie Andre, is back to defend her title and the Frenchwoman will hoping for a return to form after recording two missed cuts in her last three outings.
"My game is a bit difficult at the moment so I will try to find a bit of self confidence and doing what I can do the best, so playing golf and not thinking about the rain or the players or whatever. It's a new course so it's a change for everyone and I hope it's going to be a good week for me."
Vayson de Pradenne heads into this week as the leader of the LETAS Order of Merit and will be looking to maintain her position at the top despite missing the cut last week in Finland.
“I’ve been on LETAS since 2013 and didn’t play the full tournaments at the time but it’s an exciting tour to be on and to grow your game, so leading on the tour means a lot to me actually,” Vayson de Pradenne commented.
“I need to get my head back into the game because last week I was in Finland and it was like my body and my mind were not able to focus and do the right move. I was just literally walking the clubs around and looking at the forest.”
“This week I can feel that the mind is right back where it’s supposed to be. It’s just a lot to take in when you’ve won and you’ve got a lot of people congratulating you. Down the line it’s a dream but then you have to set new objectives because the first dream is to win a tournament and beyond the Ladies European Tour you have two Majors and you have a year and a half to plan. So with my coach we said okay it’s done we need to sit down and set some new objectives.”
Playing to a yardage of 5,700 metres, the par 72 Konopiste course is a parkland style with undulating greens. The course has received rave reviews from players and Vayson de Pradenne has a good feeling about the layout and set up.
“The course this week is set up perfectly in terms of distance. Some of the par 5’s are finally fair to women, so if you play two good shots, you can actually reach them. When you play some set ups and you think the boys are actually reaching the par 5’s all the time. I like the set up and the way they did the greens and the fairways, it’s going to be a good week to shine I think.”
The 132 player field includes a strong showing of Czech professionals and elite amateurs, including Jana Melichova, who took top amateur honours in the Terre Blanche Ladies Open with a 5th placing and also finished in a tie for 14th at the Viaplay Ladies Finnish Open. Patricie Mackova performed well in the VP Bank Ladies Open with a tie for 11th position. Both players had the opportunity to compete in these events through the Player Exchange Programme, which provides exchanges between Host Federations and promoters who host events.
Twenty-seven different countries are represented in the field, including players from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, India, Japan, South Africa and Swaziland.
The AXA Czech Ladies Challenge gets underway on Thursday morning at 8.00 from both the 1st and 10th tees.