New Zealand’s premier competition for female golfers, the Anita Boon Pro-Am, has attracted a record number of professional entries in its seventh year.
The tournament, which is co-sanctioned by New Zealand Professional Women Golfers (NZPWG) and Australia Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG), received 36 entries this year (up from 27 in 2014): ten from New Zealand, 25 from Australia and 1 from New Caledonia.
The players will be competing for a record $40 000 prize pool at the ALPG Order of Merit event, to be held at the North Shore Golf Club on 12 and 13 November.
ALPG Tour Director Karen Lunn says both the number and calibre of entries is a reflection of the “outstanding reputation the Pro-Am carries as a port of entry for women golfers to launch their careers into bigger tournaments”, including the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open and the major Australian summer events.
“With $40 000 in prize money on offer, we’ve attracted a strong professional field, and we may even discover the next Lydia Ko.”
Leading the Australian charge is 29-year-old Sarah Kemp, the highest-ranked player to ever compete in the Anita Boon Pro-Am.
Kemp is the world #211, has played on the LPGA tour for the last six years, and finished in 69th place at the 2015 Evian Masters, an event won by Ko.
Australian Stacey Keating is the next best-ranked player entered in the field, at #304. Keating is currently in 29th place on the Ladies European Tour (LET) Order of Merit and finished 14th in China last week.
Along with Kemp, Keating finished in 25th place at this year’s ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open in Clearwater.
Both Kemp and Keating have competed in this tournament for the last four years, with 2015 marking the first year they are supporting the Anita Boon Pro-Am.
Back to defend her title is 2014 winner Cherie Alison, who won with an impressive 2-under total 142 in trying conditions to win by five shots.
Alison, who is the Head Professional and Golf Services Manager at Sydney’s Concord Golf Club, secured herself a start in the 2015 ISPS Handa Australian Open and the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) Ladies Masters with her win.
Leading the New Zealand charge is Liv Cheng, the recipient of the 2015 KFC Golf Scholarship – a $10 000 scholarship designed to help promising Kiwi women hone their game and fulfill their golfing potential.
Cheng turned pro after graduating from Pepperdine University in 2014 and enjoyed her first professional win at the McLeod Country Golf Club in January 2015, where she tied with Kemp.
NZPWG trustee Liz McKinnon is thrilled with the quality of the field entered and says it is fantastic to have the support of “so many past, current and future stars of the game.”
“The Pro-Am has been timed so players can set themselves up for major tournaments and tour schools in Australia over the summer. To have so many quality players entered reinforces this event as an important one on the ALPG tournament schedule.”
The Anita Boon Pro-Am, sponsored by KFC and Coca-Cola, is open to professional and amateur players and raises money for the NZ Gynaecological Cancer Foundation (NZGCF).
An auction raising funds for NZGCF is being held on Friday 13 November at 6.30pm, with everyone welcome to attend.
While Lydia Ko is unable to compete in this year’s tournament, she has recorded a message for fellow players, saying she “hopes everyone can support this great event.”
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