Nine Australians will be trying to add their name to the Lacoste Ladies Open de France in Saint-Jean-de-Luz this week.
One Aussie with her name already etched on the trophy is defending champion Stacey Keating. Joining Keating in the field is Lindsey Wright, Rebecca Artis, Nikki Campbell, Nikki Garrett, Alison Whitaker, Bree Arthur, Sarah Kemp and Stephanie Na.
With only 78 players teeing it up in the limited field event, we have a large presence, however the competition is strong. France’s Karine Icher, currently ranked 22 on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings will be looking to capture her home Open title. The Spanish duo of Azahara Munoz and Carlota Ciganda, both ranked in top 35 players in the world are also expected to be in contention come Sunday.
South African Lee-Anne Pace has won twice this season in Europe and has been in contention on a number of other occasions, so don’t be surprised if she is up on the leaderboard. However, the local sentential favourite will be Anne-Lise Caudal. Caudal is from the area and still lives and practices here.
Keating will be leading the Australian charge as defending champ. The 27 year-old from Cressy in Victoria came from three shots behind last year at the Chantaco Golf Club to defeat Italy’s Diana Luna by one shot.
Her best memories from last year were “My 62 in round 1 was a really nice memory and meeting Lorena Ochoa at the presentation.” said Keating this week after practice.
Keating currently sits 18th on the ISPS Handa Order of Merit with just under Euro 60,000. She has had an up and down 2013.
“I have to be honest and it's been a little scratchy. But its feeling good so we’ll see what happens.”
Coming back to a course that she has played well at, gives her added confidence this week.
“I have so many great memories here and I know the course suits me.”
Being the defending champion has not put any extra pressure on the talented player.
“I don't really feel any extra pressure or anything but I like knowing I have played well on this course before. I would like to put myself into contention come the weekend, but as we all know anything can happen in golf but we’ll see! Really looking forward to the week starting.”
The keys to success around the Chantaco golf course are to keep the ball in play off the tee and make some putts. “There are some tough holes on the back where placement off the tee is key, and of course who ever holes putts is going to be up there on the weekend.”
Wright is another one that should play well here this week. The former World No.12 was in contention at the recent Evian Championship, however she got off to a rocky start in the last round and couldn’t recover. Her ball striking has been very solid all year, if the putts start to drop she will be right in the mix.
Rebecca Artis is riding a wave of confidence, her form over the past couple of months has been fantastic and she was rewarded when she captured The Helsingborg Open in Sweden at the beginning of the month.
The 78 players are playing for their share of the Euro 250,000 purse. A cut will be made to the top 50 and ties are the first two rounds.