Sweden begin the fourth Women’s World
Cup of Golf as the bookies’ favourites. The 2006 champions have been given 3/1
odds to win their second title in four years, with last year’s runners-up, the
United States, at 4/1 and Korea at 5/1.
But ask any of the players representing these countries
and they will tell you that the Gary Player Country Club course is the
overwhelming favourite to come out on top this week.
Almost every player in the field of 40 has commented on
the difficulty of the Sun City layout, with
the golfers experiencing some of the thickest and most unforgiving rough.
"You know the old saying: ‘Take your punishment and
leave’," was the comment South
Africa’s Laurette Maritz made on Thursday.
"If you try to do miraculous things out of there, you
are going to struggle," she added. "There have been many pars and
birdies made if you chip out sideways and just do the thing that you
Maritz cautioned the field against a very attacking
approach this week. "If you try and stay on the straight and narrow you’ll
do much better than you thought."
Germany‘s Bettina Hauert agreed.
"You don’t want to miss a fairway," she said. "The key to this
tournament, like it is in basically any golf tournament, is fairways and
The German number one, who finished second on the Ladies
European Tour (LET) Order of Merit last year, explained that she lost a couple
of golf balls in the practice round.
"I hope there are going to be ball spotters around
because otherwise my caddie will have to carry two dozen balls."
Hauert’s partner, Martina Eberl, also agreed with Maritz’s
sentiment. "You have to hit the fairway, even if you have to play more
defensive. If you miss it by even half a yard you may not find your ball. So if
you go for the centre of the green I think you’re pretty safe there."
Eberl, whose team have been given 40/1 odds on winning the
tournament, believes that the golf course will be a great leveller.
"It’s a tough course for everyone. We have some teams
who with Sophie Gustafson and Maria Hjorth are both long hitters, but I don’t
think they have a big advantage on this course.
The longer you hit the ball, the more the fairways get
tighter. Although they have a lot of power and muscles they won’t get very far
The Swedish team should use Eberl’s comments as
motivation. Gustafson, the leading money winner on the LET, and her partner
Hjorth have been keeping level heads ahead of Friday’s opening Betterball.
"We have to play really well to be able to win the
whole thing," said Hjorth. "I think the way Sophie and I have been
playing, especially the second half of last year, coming into this week we have
a chance but we really have to play well and solid."
Hjorth said that the favourites tag gives her a lot of
motivation. "It’s always good to be the favourite because then you know
that you have two good players in your team."
Friday’s Betterball has thrown up some interesting
pairings. The hosts, South Africa,
tee off at 10.48am alongside defending champions Paraguay. Ashleigh Simon plays her
first World Cup as a professional after debuting as a 15-year-old amateur in
The Korean team of Ji-Yai Shin and Eun-Hee Ji are paired
with the American team of Juli Inkster and Pat Hurst in the penultimate
fourball at 10.36am.
India, who have been given 125-1 odds
on winning the title, play in the opening match with Spain at 9am.
Click here to view the First Round Pairings.