They’re back! The Sisters of Swing return to the Gold Coast in February with another star-studded lineup expected to arrive for the 2012 Gold Coast RACV Australian Ladies Masters.
The 23rd staging of the tournament will once again be played at the RACV Royal Pines Resort from February 2-5 under co-sanctioning status with Australian Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG) and the Ladies European Tour (LET).
Tournament Chairman, Bob Tuohy is thrilled with the tournament date which positions the event in the week prior to the LPGA/ALPG/LET-sanctioned ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. Many LPGA players are expected to make the trip Down Under to take advantage of Gold Coast tournament prior to heading to Melbourne.
American teenage sensation Lexi Thompson is a confirmed starter. The 16-year-old is one of the hottest players in world golf, having broken through for her first professional victory in September at the Navistar LPGA Classic, and in doing so became the youngest ever winner in the history of the LPGA Tour.
Some of the highlights in her career to date include: Navistar LPGA Classic Champion, runner-up at the 2010 Evian Masters, tied 10th at the 2010 US Women’s Open, Golfweek’s No.1 ranked amateur in 2009 and holds the record as the youngest player, at 12 years of age, ever to qualify for a US Women’s Open (2007).
Thompson celebrated her 16th birthday at last year’s Ladies Masters and is looking forward to returning again in 2012.
The tournament has a wonderful history of attracting world-class fields but also for launching individual careers. ALPG CEO Warren Sevil said the list of past players and winners is impressive.
“The Ladies Masters has been the cornerstone of women’s golf in Australia since 1990, we have had tremendous fields over the years, with numerous major winners and World No.1 players attracted to the event.
“The event boasts a proud history of launching the careers of the likes of World Golf Hall of Famers Karrie Webb, Annika Sorenstam and Se Ri Pak, former World number one Lorena Ochoa, and the current Rolex World number one and defending champion Yani Tseng.”
This year is likely to be no exception, with interest shown from numerous top-10 players on the current Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.
The LET and local players will be looking to add their name to the prestigious honour roll. Australian Karrie Webb (seven time winner), England’s Laura Davies (three times) and World Golf Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam are some of the names etched onto the trophy.
England’s Melissa Reid, the Netherland’s Christel Boeljon, Swede Caroline Hedwall, Italian Diana Luna and South African Lee-Anne Pace are likely to lead the LET charge.
Reid, Boeljon and Hedwall have enjoyed fantastic years having won tournaments on the LET and having been part of the European Team that took home the Solheim Cup in dramatic circumstances in Scotland in September. Pace, the 2010 LET Money List winner has had another consistent year and will be looking for a positive start to 2012 in an event where she finished fifth in 2011.
Of the Australians, Nikki Campbell was runner-up in 2011, while Katherine Hull won the title back in 2009. Tamie Durdin certainly has the game to go low and has come close on several occasions. Some of the younger Australians looking to make an impression include Frances Bondad, a winner on the LET in 2011, Rebecca Flood, Stacey Keating and Alison Whitaker.
Players will notice some significant changes to the course setup for 2012. Holes 1 and 7 have been lengthened by approximately 30 metres, while the 9th hole has been reduced to a testing 413m par-4 after being played as a short par-5 in previous years. The 18th hole will be presented as a par-5, reachable in two for the longer hitters, setting up potential excitement through birdie and eagle opportunities.
The Gold Coast RACV Australian Ladies Masters will be broadcast live throughout Australia on ABC Sport, on Saturday 4 February from 2:00pm to 6:00pm and Sunday 5 February from 1:00pm to 6:00pm.