The RACV Ladies Masters tees off on the Gold Coast tomorrow with teenagers taking much of the spotlight.
The youngest player to win a professional golf tournament in history, New Zealand’s 14-year-old amateur Lydia Ko and 16-year-old USLPGA winner have been paired up alongside Australia’s Kristie Smith for the opening round tomorrow.
They will be joined by a strong list of international stars including two of last year’s Major Winners, US Open champion So Yeon Ryu and the 2011 Kraft Nabisco victor Stacy Lewis. Also teeing it up will be one of last year’s finds, the Ladies European Tour Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year, Caroline Hedwall.
Korean Ryu is competing in her fourth Gold Coast RACV Ladies Masters and is looking forward to a strong showing in her first outing for 2012.
“I really like this golf course, because I feel really comfortable,” she said, adding that the constant rain will make the course a bit tougher to play.
“This is my first tournament in 2012 and I have prepared on a lot of things, so hopefully I can play well in this tournament.”
For the first time in many years, the Ladies Masters will be without seven time winner, Karrie Webb, leaving Katherine Hull to carry the baton as Australia’s main hope.
“She has dominated here for sure so it’s one less we have to worry about and look out for this week,” Hull, the 2009 Masters champion said.
“It’s a shame she’s not here, she has her reasons, but it will be better for all of us in terms of our chances of winning.”
Hull will have fellow Aussies, Karen Lunn, Lindsey Wright, Frances Bondad, Rebecca Flood and reigning New Zealand Open Champion Kristie Smith to help lead the Australian charge.
Teenage phenom Lexi Thompson is hoping to add the 2012 Gold Coast RACV Ladies Masters to her growing list of achievements.
The 16-year-old became the youngest to win on the USLPGA Tour when she ran away with the Navistar Classic in September, finishing five ahead of fellow American Tiffany Joh.
She then became the youngest professional player to win on the Ladies European Tour when she took out the Ladies Dubai Masters in December last year.
This is Thompson’s third trip to Royal Pines but she is a little unsure of her game at the moment after a six-week break from the game.
“That is definitely along break for me. I just practiced a lot, I just played against my brothers, had our competition to keep myself busy,” she said.
“It was hard though.
Thompson and Ko’s respective parties had arranged for them to play a practice round late Monday, but due to the course being closed they couldn’t meet. Ko, was very excited to meet one her idols.
Asked about was she about her thoughts on Ko and not playing the practice round “I didn’t get to see her on TV last week, but I’ve heard so many great things about her and obviously a great accomplishment for her. I was really looking forward to playing with her but you know hopefully I get to tee up with her sometime in the future.”
In will in fact happen during the first two rounds, Ko, Thompson and Kristie Smith are paired together. They tee off at 11.50am.
Other feature groups include Katherine Hull, Stacy Lewis and Melissa Reid, who tee off at 7.10am, while three time champion Davies is playing with Ryu and Sophie Gustafson are the group following at 7.20am.
The Royal Pines course has been lashed by relentless heavy rain but everything is on track for Thursday start.