World No. 4 Park In-bee is to face off against China’s defending champion Feng Shanshan at the second World Ladies Championship to tee off on Wednesday at Mission Hills Haikou resort in Hainan, southern China.
The tournament at Sandbelt Trails Course continues through March 10.
Mission Hills, located in Haikou city on the tropical island, is the fourth stop on the Ladies European Tour’s international schedule for 2013.
With prizes totaling $600,000, the tournament gathers 108 of the best female golfers in the world including Korea’s Park, China’s Feng, ranked No. 5 in the world, No.8 Suzann Pettersen of Norway and last year’s European No.1 Carlota Ciganda of Spain.
Following the success of the inaugural tournament in 2012, the four-day competition, which is co-sanctioned by Ladies European Tour and China LPGA Tour, will again feature a unique three-in-one format.
|Park In-bee (left) kneels down beside a Chinese student golfer to show him a few pointers during a golf clinic at Mission Hills Haikou resort in Haikou city on Southern China’s tropical island of Hainan on Wednesday. (Philip Iglauer/ The Korea Herald)|
The individual professional competition features 72 holes of strokeplay with a cut to the leading 50 professionals and those tied after round two, while the amateur and team competitions will be played simultaneously.
China is showcasing its rapid development in the field of golf by hosting the competitive play among so many top ranked athletes, vying side-by-side with internationally recognized Chinese golfers for a huge purse and prizes for the individual professional, amateur and team events.
Each team will be represented by two players and the result will be determined by the lowest team aggregate score. If a player misses the cut in the individual tournament, she must play the remaining two rounds to be eligible for the team prize fund.
There will be 19 teams representing 18 different countries, with two teams from China.
It was a clean sweep for China, the home nation, and Feng Shanshan at the inaugural World Ladies Championship last year and Feng will also defend the individual title that she won by a stroke from Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum.
The full list of 19 teams includes a strong Thai pair in exciting LET rookies Ariya Jutanugarn and Nontaya Srisawang. Park In-bee beat out 17-year-old Jutanugarn at the Honda LPGA Thailand a couple of weeks ago, and is now ranked 4th in the world. The Korean team features Kim Ha-neul and Park, while Beth Allen and Hannah Jun of San Diego, California, are representing the United States for a second time.
Dewi-Claire Schreefel and Marjet Van der Graaff represent the Netherlands, Lee-Anne Pace is joined by Stacy Lee Bregman for South Africa, and Ursula Wikstrom and Minea Blomqvist unite for Finland, while Anne-Lise Caudal and Gwladys Nocera represent France.
In the amateur competition, Chinese pair Simin Feng and Xiang Sui face Scottish duo Eilidh Briggs and Kelsey MacDonald.
Frenchwoman Cassandra Kirkland enjoyed her maiden win in China at the Sanya Ladies Open late last year and is joined by another of last year’s champions in Denmark’s Line Vedel.
Set in beautiful natural surroundings, competitors and visitors alike will enjoy the tropical island scenery featuring rugged, black lava rock, lush green lychee groves, simple low walls and underground springs, all of which combine to make Mission Hills Haikou a truly unique golf destination.
Aside from the spectacle of watching the world’s best golfers in action, visitors will also have the chance to play on some of the resort’s nine other acclaimed courses and enjoy the award winning spa complex –- recently accredited as the “World’s Largest Spa Resort” by Guinness World Records.
Mission Hills will be launching an amateur ladies’ golf tournament to coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8. The Modern Lady Charity Invitational will boast a field of 96 successful business women and elite women from China who will compete in both a stableford team and individual competition, with proceeds from the event donated to help under privileged children in Hainan.
By Philip Iglauer (email@example.com)