SA 3 Ready for KLM Ladies Open

Before turning pro in May this year, Ashleigh Simon (pictured here at the Royal Sydney Golf Club, in Sydney) was the highest-ranked amateur on the LET. Picture: Tristan Jones / LETFrance’s Stephanie Arricau would love to add a second KLM Ladies Open title to her trophy collection as she defends at Eindhovensche Golf in the Netherlands this week, but she’s going to have to deal with three foremost South African golfers on the way, as Lee-Anne Pace, Ashleigh Simon and the in-form Laurette Maritz consider their prospects.

Maritz has played some of her best golf in the past four tournaments, having finished one shot off the pace during the past weekend at the Hilton Templepatrick Golf Course, when England’s Lisa Hall defeated France’s Gwladys Nocera in an eight-hole play-off to win the Northern Ireland Ladies Open.
South Africa’s most prominent rookie professional Ashleigh Simon is also in the action, and she’ll be eager to show the Ladies European Tour just how good her game is.
Also featuring in Holland this weekend is Lee-Anne Pace, another South African rookie making her name on the European tour, who has had up-and-down performances in the past four tournaments to position herself as the second South African (behind Stacey Lee Bregman) on the Ryder Cup Rookie of the Year Order of Merit, and 13th overall.
Defending champion Arricau captured both the Spanish and French Ladies Opens within three weeks of each other in 2004, and then won in the Netherlands and in Portugal in 2006.
She is excited, but her form has been mixed coming into the tournament. She is currently placed 56th on the New Star Money List with her best finish of the season joint 22nd in the Open de Espana Femenino.
For Arricau’s compatriot Gwladys Nocera, this is another week when she hopes to boost her chances of making a return to the European team for The Solheim Cup in September.
The 32-year-old finished runner-up at last week’s Northern Ireland Ladies Open, where she was eventually defeated by Hall in that eighth extra hole play-off.
After a stellar 2006 season during which she won three times, Nocera is currently first on The European Solheim Cup rankings, and her next priority is to secure her fourth Ladies European Tour victory.
Also in action will be current European number one Bettina Hauert of Germany, the recent Deutsche Bank Ladies’ Swiss Open who finished second at the BMW Ladies Italian Open.
Australia’s Nikki Garrett, the current European number three who won back-to-back Tenerife and Ladies Spanish Open titles last month, is in the field along with her compatriots Sarah Kemp and Anna Rawson, ranked fifth and seventh in Europe respectively.
English amateur Henrietta Brockway, who finished in a share of second place in the St Rule Trophy at St Andrews last weekend, has accepted an invitation to play in the tournament.
The 17-year-old from Mere in Wiltshire, who first played on the Tour in 2003 as a member of the Faldo Series, has since parted company with Team Faldo and she has now decided to devote her full attention to training for golf.
The Dutch challenge will be headed by Judith Van Hagen and the glamorous Nienke Nijenhuis, who is the event’s official Ambassador. 
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