Categories
European Tour

DP World Tour: Thriston Lawrence wins Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award

Thriston Lawrence has become the first South African to be crowned Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year, after a breakthrough season on the DP World Tour that included two wins, six further top tens and a Major debut.

DP World Tour: Lawrence celebrated two victories in debut season

A previous winner on the Sunshine Tour, the 25 year old made the perfect start to the 2022 season with victory in the opening tournament – and the first since the European Tour became the DP World Tour – at the co-sanctioned Joburg Open, where he is defending his title this week.

His breakthrough victory not only secured a DP World Tour exemption, it also led to his first appearance in a Major as part of The Open Qualifying Series, and he went on to finish inside the top 50 at the historic 150th Open at St Andrews.

A first professional victory on European soil followed in August when he secured the Omega European Masters title in a play-off triumph over England’s Matt Wallace at the iconic Golf Club Crans Montana in Switzerland.

That win led to another landmark, as he moved inside the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.

“A dream come true”

Lawrence racked up six further top tens, including a tied second finish at the Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa and third place at the Horizon Irish Open, on the way to finishing 14th in the DP World Tour’s season-long rankings.

“It’s a dream come true. If you look at the names on the trophy, it’s incredible. A year ago I didn’t even have a category, so when I started off with a victory, it came to mind straight away to go for this award. To have accomplished it is an incredible feeling – I’m very grateful and honoured,” said Lawrence.

“It was very special to get the first win at the Joburg Open. This was where my life changing dream started, and I’m honoured to be defending here this week.

“That win opened up so many doors for me. It gave me a winner’s category, gave me the chance to play big events like the Rolex Series and my first Major at St Andrews, where golf started.

First South African as Rookie of the Year

“Winning twice was incredible, and it’s not where I want to end. It’s a balance between being strict on yourself, sticking to your routine, having good support behind you. It’s not just me, it’s a whole bigger team. Onwards and upwards from here.”

Keith Pelley, the DP World Tour’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “I would like to congratulate Thriston on being named Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year after a truly memorable debut season.

“Our Tour has been graced by many fantastic players from South Africa over the years, which makes it even more special that Thriston is the first of his countrymen to win this award and join the prestigious list of international winners. We look forward to watching his career unfold on the DP World Tour in the years ahead.”

“He didn’t take his foot off the gas”

David Howell, Chairman of the Tournament Committee, said: “Thriston is a worthy winner of the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award and, on behalf of the Tournament Committee, I would like to congratulate him on a fantastic season.

“Winning the first event of the season opened up so many doors for him, but he didn’t take his foot off the gas, and it was a great achievement to follow that up with another win in such a historic event just a few months later.

“I’m sure there is more to come, and I look forward to seeing Thriston on Tour in the coming seasons.”

(Text: Press release DP World Tour)

Categories
LPGA Tour

Lydia Ko: Despite mom’s insult, the former prodigy is better than ever at 25

Lydia Ko will probably have to put up a new wardrobe at home in Orlando – with all the trophies she brings home from the CME Group Tour Championship: the glass globe for winning the LPGA final tournament, the silver bowl of the Vare Trophy, the “Player of the Year” awards and everything else the 25-year-old was presented with at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples. “The winner takes it all,” ABBA once warbled. But despite the record check for two million dollars and a total of 4,364,403 dollars for three victories and a total of seven top-five finishes since the Amundi Evian Championship in July, the most successful prize money season of all time didn’t work out. Lorena Ochoa was “better” by $591 in 2007.

“She’s made peace with herself”

But money, as we all know, isn’t everything. Especially when the “main prize” is standing on the edge of the 18th green: Ko’s fiancé Jun Chung. “He makes me smile, motivates and inspires me to become a better person and a better player,” says the New Zealander. “Since she met him, she has made peace with herself,” confirms her sister Sura.

Lydia Ko and Jun Chung have been a couple for almost two years, writing letters to each other for six months until the Corona pandemic allowed the first real date. Meanwhile, Chung, who lives in San Francisco, is the son of a Hyundai manager, works in the finance department of the Korean car company and first had to Google his new pen pal’s golf career, had taken up golf himself. On December 30, the two will marry in Kos and Chung’s native Seoul.

But after that, not much will change, says Chung, who likes to stay out of the camera’s focus: “She’ll keep playing. I don’t want to get involved in that. I want ‘Lyds’ to give all she can in the time she has ahead of her at this top level.” In turn, she says, “Since I’ve been with him, I want to make better use of the time I have to work on my game. To then be able to really enjoy the time off. I feel like that helps me train better and focus more.”

Three “meager” years already count as a crisis there


Time is the key word in every sense of the word for change, for the development of exceptional golfer Lydia Ko, who began as a teenage sensation, won her first professional tournament at 14, became the youngest tour winner in LPGA history at 15 years, four months and two days at the Canadian Open in August 2012, was number one in the world amateur rankings for 130 weeks and won her first professional tournament at the age of 18. Before the age of 20, she had already won two majors and the silver medal in golf’s Olympic comeback, and now has 19 LPGA victories to her name.

With such a golfing career, three years, the period between July 2016 and April 2021, with only one tournament title and a drop to 46th in the world rankings, can seem like a sporting crisis: “When you’re not playing so well, you have these weaker moments that feel so long. All too often, she has linked her existence exclusively to the numbers on the scorecard, identifying herself by her results on the golf course, Ko admits self-critically and unapologetically.

Interviewer rendered speechless

As bluntly as she spoke in June about her menstrual cramps and their effects on her back muscles (“It’s that times of the month”) after asking for medical help during the round – which literally left the interviewer from the “Golf Channel” speechless.

Equally candid, she says Jun Chung has given her “a new outlook on golf and life”: “How he perceives me doesn’t depend on my performance on the course.” And that’s precisely why “above all, I really wanted to win the BMW Ladies Championship last month in both our motherland, South Korea, with him by my side.” Mission accomplished. If Rosamunde Pilcher had written this plot, the whole world would have called it kitsch.

“You played better when you were 15”

So be it. From Ko’s point of view, the balance in her life has never been better. Without the period of the so-called form crisis, “I probably wouldn’t have the attitude I have today,” she says after her first season of multiple wins since 2016. “I feel like I matured a lot during that time.” And then isn’t fazed by a “You played better when you were 15” comment from her mother Tina: “What am I supposed to do with that information?” After nine years on the tour, you act differently, you’re simply more experienced, more familiar with the processes and conditions.

“Experience is the reason why some players play successfully on the tour for 15, 20 years. They hit their balls and know what’s going to happen. That comes naturally over time. Experience is like having a 15th club in the bag.”

Lydia Ko

On and off the court – starting with training on “more different types of grass than you can name in the same breath,” grins the new world number two behind Nelly Korda. “I used to play up liberated because I was young and clueless. Today I’m freer because I’ve learned to take things as they come and deal with them.”

Soon to be youngest Hall of Fame member

No question, the former child prodigy has grown up. And will probably soon become even the youngest member “ever” in the LPGA Hall of Fame. Until now, or since 2016, this privilege has gone to Inbee Park, who had to turn 27 to become a member. Ko, meanwhile, is only two points short.

Categories
Highlights Tours

Nicolas Colsaerts named as vice captain for the 2023 Ryder Cup

Luke Donald has named Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts as his third Vice Captain for the 2023 Ryder Cup which will be played at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, Italy from September 26 – October 1, 2023.
 
Colsaerts was part of the most famous European victory in the annals of the Ryder Cup in the 2012 contest at Medinah; producing one of the most memorable debuts in the history of the event when he carded eight birdies and an eagle in partnership with Lee Westwood to help defeat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker on the final green in the Friday fourball session.
 
Outside of the Ryder Cup arena, Colsaerts has won three times on the DP World Tour, previously known as the European Tour. His most recent was a dramatic triumph in the 2019 Open de France, where he entered the week battling to keep his Tour card and ended it style with a one shot victory. To date, he has played in 436 Tour events to lie 84th in the list of all-time appearances.
 
Colsaerts is a well-liked figure on Tour and will undoubtedly be a popular addition to Team Europe. The Belgian joins Dane Thomas Bjørn, the successful 2018 European Captain, and Italian Edoardo Molinari as Vice Captains for the 2023 contest; his appointment being the perfect belated birthday gift for him as he turned 40 only last week.
 
Colsaerts said: “My first reaction when Luke asked me was sheer joy. Every time I hear the words ‘Ryder Cup’, it takes me back to the edition I played in, how proud I was to wear the European colours and be part of such an unbelievable event. Of course, Luke was in that team too and when we spoke he mentioned how much he has always loved what the Ryder Cup means to me.
 
“Being a Vice Captain is a different role to being a player but, nevertheless, my mission in 2023 will be exactly the same as it was in 2012, namely, to make a contribution to the team in any way I can. Rest assured, whatever I am asked to do, I will do it.
 
“We already have two fantastic Vice Captains in Thomas Bjørn and Edoardo Molinari and we already have a special bond between us. We are all different personalities but that is interesting because when you put us all in a room together you will have different angles, and Luke will be able to take what is best from each of us.
 
“When you play team sport as a youngster you are told that the most important thing is to participate and while that is true then, when you are a professional golfer in the Ryder Cup, when you wear the colours and you step onto that first tee, the only thing you want to do is to win; not only for the other guys on the team, but also for the Continent you are representing. That is what we want to do in Rome.”
 
Captain Donald said: “Nico has been on my mind for a couple of months now to be honest. I played in the team with him in 2012 and you could just see how much it meant to him. He understands what it means to represent the European crest and what it means to be part of the Ryder Cup set-up. When I asked him, he literally had goosebumps – so I am very happy to have him as my third Vice Captain.
 
“Nico gets along extremely well with all the guys out here on the DP World Tour and he will be a great person to help keep an eye on things here in Europe in periods when I might be in the US. There is already great communication between us – myself, Thomas, Edoardo and Nico – and I couldn’t be happier with the way my backroom team is shaping up.”

Text: Team Europe/ DP World Tour

Categories
LPGA Tour

LPGA Tour: Lydia Ko Wins 2022 Rolex Player of the Year Award, Vare Trophy

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Nov. 10, 2022 ­– The LPGA Tour announced today that Lydia Ko earned the 2022 Rolex Player of the Year award with her win ­at the CME Group Tour Championship. Ko, who earned two additional victories this season at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio and the BMW Ladies Championship, is the 15th different player to win the award at least twice.

The 25-year-old also won the 2022 Vare Trophy for recording the season’s lowest scoring average of 68.988. Her season-long scoring average is the second-lowest Vare Trophy-winning scoring average in Tour history, behind Annika Sorenstam’s 68.70 in 2002. Sorenstam and Ko are the only two players to win the Vare Trophy with a scoring average in the 68s. Ko is the 12th player in LPGA Tour history to win the award in consecutive seasons and the 15th player to win the trophy more than once.

With the CME Group Tour Championship victory, the Rolex Player of the Year honor and the Vare Trophy, Ko now has 25 points toward qualifying for the LPGA Hall of Fame, two points shy of the 27 needed to be inducted.

“It’s a dream come true” for Lydia Ko

“I feel like it’s really difficult to compare, like, when I won the Player of the Year in 2015 to now. I don’t even — I don’t do stats very much, so I don’t even know what it is actually by numbers, but this year has been special,” said Ko following her win at the CME Group Tour Championship. “To win again at the Gainbridge so early in the season after winning in LOTTE last year, especially when I didn’t feel like I was ready, it kind of came to me as a surprise. Winning in Korea was special at a place where I was born, and it was my goal to have won there once. And to kind of do that, it was like a bucket-list thing.

You know, coming into these two events in the Florida stretch because I had won in Korea, I wanted to not have too high expectations. And obviously I wanted to end the season on a high but, you know, know that whatever happens and even though there’s a lot of things on the line, just know that it’s been a great season. And to be the Player of the Year and to win the Vare Trophy again and to win the CME Group Tour Championship, it’s a dream come true. To be able to do it in front of family and my team, you know, it’s a very special one.”

Ko entered the week in Naples, Fla. as one of four players with a mathematical chance of winning Player of the Year, leading the standings with 150 points, one clear of Minjee Lee and 20 ahead of Brooke Henderson and Atthaya Thtiikul. She also led Thitikul by 0.386 of a stroke heading into the final event, meaning the Thai rookie would have needed to score 35 strokes better than Ko to have a chance at the Vare Trophy.

The Kiwi set herself apart from the first day of play, managing the windy conditions throughout the week better than anyone to earn her second wire-to-wire victory of the season and of her career. By the end of the second round, Ko had a five-stroke lead on the field, but Irishwoman Leona Maguire made the most of Moving Day to tie things up before the final day. A 2-under 70 was all Ko needed on Sunday to finish -17 overall, two strokes ahead of Maguire, and secure the three season-ending titles.

Ko won her first Rolex Player of the Year award in 2015 after earning five victories that season, including her first major championship title at the Amundi Evian Championship. She earned her first Vare Trophy last year with a season-long scoring average of 69.329. Her accolades include the 2021 Founders Award and the 2014 Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year honor.

Ko celebrates her 19th LPGA Tour win

Along with her three victories this season, Ko notched 11 additional top-10 finishes, including third-place finishes at the Palos Verdes Championship presented by Bank of America, the Amundi Evian Championship and The Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America.

Ko is now a 19-time LPGA Tour winner (ranked T29 on the LPGA Tour’s All-Time Wins List), with major titles at the 2015 Amundi Evian Championship and the 2016 Chevron Championship. She is a former World No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, first achieving the top spot in February 2015 as the youngest player ever to be ranked No. 1 in professional golf. Ko is also the only amateur in history to win two LPGA Tour events, and officially joined the Tour as a 2014 rookie after petitioning for Membership in October 2013. Ko is a two-time Olympian representing New Zealand, winning the silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The prestigious Rolex Player of the Year award was introduced to the LPGA in 1966. LPGA Tour players are awarded points at each official LPGA tournament based on top-10 finishes with the top points earner taking home the prestigious honor each year. Points are doubled at each of the LPGA’s five major championships – The Chevron Championship, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica, the Amundi Evian Championship and the AIG Women’s Open.

The Vare Trophy was presented to the LPGA by Betty Jameson in 1952, in honor of the great American player Glenna Collett Vare. Vare Trophy scoring averages are computed on the basis of a Member’s total yearly score in Official Tournaments divided by the number of official rounds she played during a season.

(Text: LPGA)

Categories
LPGA Tour

LPGA Tour Announces Record-Breaking 2023 Schedule

 In a breakthrough moment in the history of women’s sports, the athletes of the LPGA Tour, the world’s leading destination for female professional golfers, will compete for more than $101 million in official purses in 2023. The LPGA today announced that the 2023 schedule will comprise 33 official events, with a total official prize fund of $101.4 million, along with the biennial playings of the Solheim Cup and the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown.

“Because of our athletes, partners, volunteers and incredible fans, 2023 will be a banner year for the LPGA Tour,” said LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan. “The schedule features new events, elevated purses, unique formats and world-class golf courses. Our athletes are playing for more total prize money than any time in history, and we have over 500 hours of broadcast television. All those things combine to make the LPGA the leading women’s professional sports property in the world. The LPGA Tour has never had better or more committed partners who see the commercial value in investing in women’s sports and who understand how their partnerships elevate women and girls on and off the golf course. As the home to the world’s best female golfers, the LPGA provides a platform to inspire young girls and women to dream big.”

The 2023 global schedule will take the LPGA Tour to 11 states across the United States and 12 countries and regions. Starting with the annual season kickoff at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, the Tour will visit Asia before heading to Superstition Mountain Golf Club in Gold Canyon, Ariz., for the fifth playing of the LPGA Drive On Championship. Superstition Mountain, the home club for numerous LPGA Tour stars, hosted the 2004-2008 Safeway International, with a Hall-of-Fame list of winners in Annika Sorenstam (2004, 2005), Juli Inkster (2006) and Lorena Ochoa (2007, 2008).

The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands, Texas, will make its debut as host of The Chevron Championship, the first women’s major of the season, with a newly elevated purse of $5.1 million. The following week, the JM Eagle LA Championship presented by Plastpro will join the Tour schedule at Wilshire Golf Club in Los Angeles, boasting a $3 million purse.

New Jersey will host four events in 2023, starting with the Cognizant Founders Cup at Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, the LPGA Tour’s annual celebration of the past, present and future of the women’s game. The Mizuho Americas Open at Jersey City’s Liberty National Golf Club will include 24 elite female amateurs competing in a concurrent AJGA Invitational, playing alongside their professional heroes. The Bay Course at Seaview in Atlantic City will host the 35th playing of the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer, and the swing through the Garden State will end with a minimum $9 million purse at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, just the second elite women’s competition to be held on the Lower Course at the famed Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield.

Two weeks later, the U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica will bring female professional golfers to Pebble Beach for the first time, adding a new page to a history book that includes seven men’s majors. Players will compete for at least $10 million at one of the country’s most popular venues.

In July and August, the Tour will make its usual swing through Europe, opening in France with the Amundi Evian Championship and its $6.5 million purse. The AIG Women’s Open, which will be contested with a purse of at least $7.3 million, will take place at Walton Heath, host venue for the 1981 Ryder Cup. The LPGA Tour will then compete across the United States and Canada before heading back to Asia for the month of October.   

2023’s competitive schedule will culminate with back-to-back events along the Southwestern Florida coast. THE ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican, featuring a purse of $3.25 million, will welcome 72-time LPGA Tour winner Annika Sorenstam as the official tournament host. Finally, the season will end at Tiburon Golf Club for the CME Group Tour Championship, with the winner receiving $2 million, the largest single prize in the history of women’s golf.

The 2023 season will also feature two exhilarating team competitions. The Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown, a team match-play competition that showcases the best female golfers from the top eight countries across the globe, will return to the LPGA Tour calendar for the first time since 2018

and will be held at San Francisco’s famed TPC Harding Park on May 4-7. And on Sept. 22-24, the Solheim Cup, featuring the 12 best U.S. players versus the 12 best European players, will be held at Finca Cortesin in Spain.

Categories
European Tour

Rahm and Fitzpatrick presented with DP World Tour Honorary Life Membership

Jon Rahm and Matt Fitzpatrick, the last two U.S. Open Champions, have been presented with Honorary Life Membership of the DP World Tour ahead of the 2022 season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

In 2021, Rahm became the first Spanish winner of the U.S. Open as he triumphed at Torrey Pines, birdieing the final two holes to finish one stroke ahead of Louis Oosthuizen. He returned to World Number One with his victory and became just the fourth Spaniard to win a Major Championship.

Earlier this year, Fitzpatrick completed a fairy-tale triumph at The Country Club, Brookline, winning the U.S. Open at the same venue he won the U.S. Amateur Championship nine years prior – joining Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win both Championships on the same course.

Keith Pelley, the CEO of the DP World Tour, presented the pair with their Honorary Life Membership cards ahead of the final Rolex Series event of 2022, becoming the 58th and 59th members to be conferred the honour.

He said: “Jon and Matt’s achievements over the last two years were truly special and we are delighted to present them both with Honorary Life Membership of the DP World Tour.

“Jon assumed the status of an Honorary Life Member of our Tour immediately after his win at Torrey Pines but with him not being here in Dubai last year, we were unable to make the official presentation – I am delighted to be able to put that right this year, alongside recognising Matt for his own magical U.S. Open moment in June.

“Jon’s victory was an incredible achievement, becoming the first Spaniard to win the U.S. Open and just the fourth Major winner from Spain. And for Matt to write his name alongside Jack Nicklaus in golf’s record books is something that few golfers in history can claim to do.”

Rahm said: “To join the list of icons that have earned this, it is truly an honour. Any time you can write your name in history next to some of the greatest players that have accomplished this before me is very unique. To keep doing things like this, it is a true honour to represent Spain and an honour to receive this.”

Fitzpatrick said: “I’ve been out on Tour seven or eight years now and I remember when Danny Willett received his and I thought at the time ‘I’d love one of those’. When I found out that I’d be presented with Honorary Life Membership by Keith and the Tour I was truly honoured. I’m very grateful.”

Categories
Ladies Tours

LPGA Tour: Tickets on sale for the 2023 AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath

The AIG Women’s Open will visit  the Surrey venue for the first time in 2023 with the renowned layout having previously hosted the Ryder Cup, British Masters and The Senior Open presented by Rolex.

Taking place just outside London, a number of new ticket offers have been launched to entice fans in to enjoying the most international major in women’s golf.

Fans will now be able to watch the players practising on Wednesday 9 August with Practice Day tickets available to purchase along with Thursday to Sunday Championship Day tickets.

Ticket prices will start at £30 for an adult on Championship Days and from £10 on Practice Days, with this launch offer available for a limited time only.

“Delighted to play at Walton Heath”

Zoe Ridgway, Championship Director – AIG Women’s Open at The R&A said, “We are delighted to be playing the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath in 2023. As we return to the South-East for the first time in four years our goal is to make the Championship as accessible as possible for everyone.

“We are anticipating rising levels of interest and demand to attend the AIG Women’s Open and we have introduced Wednesday Practice Day tickets to offer fans even more opportunities to watch their favourite players in this world-class major championship.”

A number of offers are also available, including a £10 discount when booking a weekend bundle and a saving of £30 when booking the new five-day ticket offering.

Mastercard holders are also eligible for £10 off their ticket purchase when booking between 21-29 November 2022 as part of The R&A’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers.

To encourage children and young people to attend the AIG Women’s Open, The R&A will continue the successful ‘Kids go Free’ programme, which provides children under-16-years-old free entry to the Championship when accompanied by a paying adult. Half-price youth tickets are also available for 16-24-year-olds.

Hospitality packages are also on general sale, offering an unrivalled way to experience the Championship in which guests can enjoy over 10 hours of world-class action and fully inclusive hospitality. Visit www.aigwomensopen.com/hospitality/heathlandsuite for further information. 

For information on the AIG Women’s Open or to purchase tickets, please visit www.aigwomensopen.com

Text: R&A Media

Categories
Ladies European Tour

A star is born at the Aramco Team Series – Jeddah



Noja celebrates her first win on the tour

The Dubai-based high school senior matched the tournament low of 65 in the final round at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club to secure her place in the play-off while Hull produced four birdies in her last six holes to tie with Noja on 13-under-par in regular play.
Despite the pressure on the young schoolgirl, Noja played picture-perfect golf for unfaltering back-to- back birdies in the play-off, enough to secure the victory and the $75,000 first prize.

Following an invitation from the tournament organisers, Noja took a break from her mock GCSE’s to play and joked earlier in the week that “the goal is to win this week so I don’t need school anymore” after accidentally bringing the wrong books to study in Jeddah.
After the goal came to fruition, Noja said: “I don’t think it’s sunk in quite yet. I think the happiness will come later this evening. Before we went out, my Dad showed Charley a picture of me with her as a 10-year-old. It’s like a full circle, it’s a blessing.
“I’ve worked hard over a lot of years now to be able to not back out of shots and commit to everything that I do and not be afraid to fail.”
“I have no clue what the plan is next.” Noja added “I can’t even begin to fathom it, I’m just going to try and relax tonight. Maybe have a burger and sleep, probably the best night sleep I’m ever going to get and see how I feel.”

Nicole Garcia also pleased the crowd on 18 with an eagle from off the green to secure sole posession third place. She had a lot to celebrate this week as she led her team to victory here in Jeddah, her second team championship win as captain.

Another play-off in the team event


For the first time on the Aramco Team Series both the individual and team competitions were decided in play-offs with Team Garcia – Nicole Garcia, Cassandra Alexander, Tereza Melecka, and amateur Sonia Bayahya – claiming victory with a birdie in the first play-off hole against Team Wolf.
Garcia nominated teammate Alexander to take on the play-off against Christine Wolf, who was teamed up with Laura Beveridge, Alexandra Swayne, and Saudi-female Raghdah Alessawi, who was the teams
amateur.
Team Captain Nicole Garcia, who’s now captained her team to victory twice, commented after the win: “Cassandra and I have known each other for a long time and we’d spoken before we even knew we were in the play-off that she was in, so it was already decided yesterday.”
After hitting the winning shots down 18, Alexandra said: “It was a bit nerve-wracking but I kind of knew what I was going to have in from previous rounds so I went to the range and hit a couple of that shot
beforehand. I hit a 7-iron, and it was enough to get the job done.”
Amateur Sonia Bayahya played a significant part in her team reaching the play-off today and added to their comments, “It’s a really good experience. Really the playoff victory was so good. I really felt part of the team, the girls were so sweet with me – thanks to them and thanks to all of Aramco Team Series.”
Jeddah marks the end of the 2022 Aramco Team Series following events in Bangkok, London, Sotogrande, and New York. 2022 marks the second year of the $1 million team tournaments on the Ladies European Tour schedule.

(Text: Aramco Team Series)

Categories
Ladies European Tour Ladies Tours

Hull takes the lead in Round 2 at the Aramco Team Series Jeddah

The Aramco Team Series Jeddah is primed for an electric final day at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club as world number 17 Charley Hull takes a one-shot lead over defending champion Pia Babnik, Caroline Hedwall, and Virginia Elena Carta, while Team Garcia and Team Wolf will head to the 18th tomorrow for a play-off to determine the team victors. 

Hull made her seventh birdie of the day on the last to shoot a blemish-free 65 and take the lead as she sets her sights on her second win in the last three starts. 

Following the round, Hull commented: “It was a really really good front nine, I even missed a couple of putts but I’m not complaining…I’ve put some good work in this year and now it’s all coming together. I wasn’t massively confident coming into this week but I’m feeling much better now I’ve played some golf and just enjoying it out here.”

Babnik is looking at a repeat of last year’s Aramco Team Series Jeddah victory as she matched Hull’s low round of the day with just the one blemish and eight birdies enroute to finish one behind. The 18-year-old said after the round: “I’m really happy, I played really good today. There were some good shots I hit and then the wind stopped which was frustrating but overall, I am happy with the round I played. I really played well, gave myself a lot of chances.”

Virginia Elena Carta also sits in that second-place spot and accredits some of her strong form this week to the team format at the Aramco Team Series, she said after the round: “It’s much easier to play well when you have a good team and when you are able to enjoy yourself out there… I really played for the team today. I’ll take it one shot at a time tomorrow and see, there are birdie opportunities out there, it’s just a matter of giving myself some chances and trying to make some good putts.”

The team championship will be decided on the final days play with Team Wolf and Team Garcia tied on 29-under after 36-holes of play. The two teams will take to the 18th hole following the conclusion of the individual event tomorrow to decide the Aramco Team Series team champion.

Nicole Garcia, who is just two shots behind the individual lead, led her team of Casandra Alexander, Tereza Melecka, and amateur Sonia Bayahya to the top of the leaderboard and commented after the round: “My team was in great spirits, and we really tried hard out there. It was tough to make the putts on these greens, but my team managed to pull it off so I’m really proud.”

Christine Wolf will be joined in tomorrow’s playoff by teammates Laura Beveridge, Alexandra Swayne, and amateur Raghdah Alessawi.

Categories
European Tour

Gallacher among Ryder Cup stars seeking DP World Tour Q School redemption at INFINITUM

Stephen Gallacher is hoping to gain instant redemption and secure a 27th consecutive season on the DP World Tour as the Scot tees it up at INFINITUM this week for the return of the Qualifying School Final Stage.

The six-round marathon of golf will be played for the first time since 2019 and tension is building for the 156 players in the field, all of whom will battle it out for the 25 spots on offer to compete in the 2023 DP World Tour season.

Four-time DP World Tour winner Gallacher is one of four former Ryder Cup players in the field at the acclaimed Spanish venue, which will host the famous event from November 11-16. He is joined by fellow former Team Europe stars David Howell, Jarmo Sandelin and Chris Wood, forming an experienced quartet which boast 17 DP World Tour titles between them.

Gallacher: “You have to handle it like any other event”

The most recent of Gallacher’s four attempts at Qualifying School came 13 years ago, when he earned the third card on offer to bounce straight back after a disappointing 2009 season. He will be hoping he can repeat that feat this week at INFINITUM, a venue he has already played this year when the ISPS Championship in Spain was staged in April.

“You’re here for a reason and you’ve just got to handle it like any other event,” Gallacher said.

“You want to finish in the top 25, you want to win it and work your way around it. It’s six rounds and it’s a big mental battle more than anything, physically too. But I’ve done it three times and I’ve got my card three times so hopefully that trend continues.

“It’s been a whirlwind since 2009, I’ve reached my career goal with the Ryder Cup, I’ve had three wins, one of them with my son, and I’ve had my lows as well. But that’s golf, I got my card for the first time at Qualifying School in 2005, so it’s 27 years. You’re going to have your ups and downs, so I wouldn’t change anything.

“It’s a different chapter and you never know, you win here and you could win again next year – it could be the catalyst to work harder or figure out something.”

The tournament will be held over INFINITUM’s two 18-hole Championship courses, the Hills course and the Lakes course, both of which provide completely different challenges. Gallacher has been extremely impressed by the Tarragona resort and thinks it is a perfect fit for Qualifying School Final Stage.

“The Lakes is a great track and they’ve obviously reseeded it, changed it aesthetically as well, it looks really good and the greens are fantastic on both courses,” he said. “At the Hills, you’ve got to plot your way around, hit it in certain positions and it’s a lot tighter with more trees, whereas the Lakes is windier and dead flat.

“They pose very different challenges and you’ve got to adapt to both of them really. I quite like that; you’ve got to think all the time. They’re both challenging golf courses and you have to use your head.

“It’s exactly what you want for Qualifying School, it’s a great finish at the Lakes too. The 13th is a driveable par four, then you’ve got a good par three and then a couple of tough holes into the wind and then a reachable par five at the end. It’s got all the drama and everything you need, and I’ve no doubt the best players will get through at the end on this six-round format.”

Final Stage qualifying is the last opportunity for hopefuls to win their DP World Tour playing rights for the 2023 season and follows INFINITUM’s hosting of the ISPS Handa Championship in Spain earlier this season, over the Lakes course.

The 90-hole qualifying marathon has provided the platform for some of golf’s most famous names to go on to worldwide success, with Major champions José María Olazábal, Retief Goosen and Sandy Lyle among the list of previous winners since it was first held in 1976.

Final Stage qualifying was first played at INFINITUM in 2017, with England’s Sam Horsfield claiming victory to regain his Tour card along with 32 other players.

A year later, Spain’s Alejandro Cañizares and Zander Lombard, from South Africa, headed a list of 27 players who won their playing rights. Denmark’s Benjamin Poke topped the leaderboard in 2019 – with another 27 joining him in qualification – before the Covid-19 pandemic forced the postponement of the event.

Set to the west of the beautiful city of Tarragona on the Costa Dorada, INFINITUM is regarded as one of Europe’s most popular golf and lifestyle facilities in an area of natural beauty, and the 156-strong line-up will face two very different golfing tests next month.

The venue’s Lakes course was designed by Greg Norman and runs around the wetlands of the Sequia Major. As its name would suggest, water is the layout’s chief defence, testing players and their positional play on no fewer than 14 holes, while players will find the course in outstanding condition following extensive maintenance work this summer to upgrade the fairways from Rye grass to the more sustainable Bermuda Tifway grass.

The neighbouring Hills course poses an altogether different test; several elevated tees and tight landing areas are surrounded by mature, natural pine trees