Pegasus NZ Women’s Open well supported
BY Bruce Young | ALPG Tour | 2011 New Zealand Women's Open | Preview | 15 Feb 2011
The Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open is played this week at the Pegasus Golf and Sports Club just north of Christchurch and, although the event clashes with the opening event of the 2011 LPGA Tour season in Thailand, arguably the strongest field in the tournament’s three year history has been assembled.
The tournament is again co-sanctioned between the Ladies European Tour and the ALPG Tour and although lacking somewhat in prize-money it does not lack in the calibre of players.
The Kristine Kerr designed layout at the Pegasus Town development was opened just over eighteen months ago and played host to this event last February when England’s Laura Davies prevailed over Swede Pernilla Lindberg, Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord and Australian Sarah Kemp.
Davies continues her support for the female game in Australasia and as the most credentialed player in the field she will again attract a lot of attention. Davies form to date in the events she has played this season on the ALPG Tour has been below her normal standard but she is such a class act that she might still perform well.
Skarpnord began last week’s event slowly but played well over the final stages including a final round of 66 suggesting she is finding form at the right time for this week’s event. Her opening round of 65 in this event last year was one of the early highlights of the week.
Lindberg has struggled in each of her first two starts in Australia in the past two weeks and needs significant improvement if she is to match her deeds of last year which included a stunning final round of 63 to give her the course record.
Kemp rattled home with a brilliant final round of 65 last week at the ANZ RACV Ladies Masters suggesting she might be ready to go one better than her two runners –up finishes in this event to date. Kemp also finished runner-up when the inaugural staging of this event was played at the nearby Clearwater Resort in 2009.
Another with a hot final round last Sunday was Kemp’s fellow LPGA Tour player Sarah-Jane Smith who has just completed her most successful LPGA Tour season and is on the verge of fulfilling much of the potential she displayed as an amateur.
Gwladys Nocera won the inaugural staging of this event in 2009 and finished 5th at Pegasus last year but has been out of sorts over the first two weeks of the season finishing 39th at the Australian Women’s Open and missing the cut on the Gold Coast. The multiple European Tour winner is however one of the classiest players in the field and should improve.
West Australian Kristie Smith led at the halfway mark of last week’s event in Queensland before battling over the weekend but she is generally considered to be one of the most talented of Australia’s emerging players.
Victoria’s Lindsey Wright is a well performed LPGA Tour player but a little out of form at present.
While there will be a lot of interest from local fans in the successful international players, it is fair to assume that most interest will be on the efforts of the outstanding young talents of Lydia Ko and Cecilia Cho. Both have performed brilliantly in big events in Australia recently.
13 year Ko finished runner-up at the NSW Women’s Open and then a remarkable 12th at the Australian Women’s Open and Cho put a great tournament together last week on the Gold Coast when she finished 5th. Ko also finished 7th in this event late year at the age of 12.
While both Ko and Cho are of Korean heritage they have learned most of their golf in New Zealand and are proud New Zealand citizens. The patriotic New Zealanders will no doubt give them plenty of support this weekend.