The Ladies European Tour Qualifying School schedule will once again reach an exciting climax in Marrakesh, Morocco, where the Final Stage of Lalla Aicha Tour School will be played from Sunday.
A total of 115 players will battle it out over five rounds across the Amelkis Golf Club and Palm Golf Ourika courses for a chance to earn playing rights for the 2019 season.
The players will have advanced from the pre-qualifying stage, finished in the top 25 of the World Amateur Golf Rankings, the top 100 of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, or narrowly missed out on a full card via the LET or LET Access Series.
The competitors will play 72 holes, with two rounds on each course, before the field is reduced to 60 players and ties after four rounds, ahead of the final round at Amelkis Golf Club on Thursday.
Following 90 holes, the leading five players will earn Category 5c membership of the LET, meaning that they will gain entry into most tournaments, while those in positions 6-25 will earn membership in Category 8.
Players who make the cut but finish in positions 26 or lower may still join the LET in Category 9b, but with limited playing opportunities.
Amongst the field this year are notable names including European Solheim Cup hopefuls Leona Maguire (Ireland), Mathilda Cappeliez (France), Sophie Lamb and Brontë Law (England), as well as the pre-qualifying winners Nobuhle Dlamini (Swaziland), Rina Tatematsu (Japan) and Linnea Ström (Sweden).
Ström, who won Pre-Qualifier B by six strokes at Amelkis Golf Club on Monday, fired a magnificent 62 (-10) in the third round for a 23-under-par total, which has given her a huge confidence boost ahead of the Final Stage.
Maguire finished in solo second on 17-under-par, after rounds of 70, 66, 68 and 67 and she is also one to watch.
She said: “It’s given me a lot of confidence. 17-under is the lowest I’ve ever shot for four rounds, so it was a nice feeling. My game’s in good shape and playing on the Amelkis Course was great preparation. I made a slow start but then an eagle on the 18th, my ninth, in the second round, turned the momentum in my favour.
“I played a practise round at Palm Golf Ourika for the first time on Wednesday and it’s certainly a very different course. It’s longer and there probably aren’t as many birdie opportunities. There’s still a premium on iron play and putting though, as the greens are quite slopey, so we will have two very different golf courses to play on. I’ll be trying to shoot as low as I possibly can!”
Another one to watch, Tatematsu, who won Pre-Qualifier C in Cambodia by seven strokes, is the youngest player in the field and will be aged 17 years, four months and four days when she tees up on Friday. Nigeria’s Georgia Oboh, who is also 17, will be the second youngest player in the field.
Of the 31 countries represented, there are large contingents from England (21 players), Sweden (14 players), France (10 players) and Switzerland (with eight players). There are seven representatives from each of Germany, India, Scotland and Spain and four from Norway and Japan.
Last year’s winner was Casey Danielson, from the United States, shot 14-under-par for the five rounds on the same golf courses, although the final round was played at Palm Golf Ourika. She then won a play-off against Carmen Alonso and Manon Mollé. Other previous winners of Lalla Aicha Tour School in Marrakesh include world number one Ariya Jutanugarn (2012), Caroline Martens (2013), three-time LET winner Aditi Ashok (2014), Nanna Koerstz Madsen (2015) and 2017 European Solheim Cup Team member Madelene Sagstrom (2016).
This is the seventh successive year that the LET has staged its qualifying school in Morocco, which was renamed Lalla Aicha Tour School, in honour of HRH the Late Princess Lalla Aicha.
The tournament takes place under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid and is organised by the Hassan II Golf Trophy Association, which also organises the Lalla Meryem Cup, for which many of the successful players at Lalla Aicha Tour School will return in April.