Coakley sets sights on 2011 Solheim Cup

By Brian Keogh

Top Irish pro Rebecca Coakley has set her sights on Solheim Cup glory on home soil in 2011.

But the Adelaide based Irishwoman wants to get 2007 off to the perfect start when she teams up with Hazel Kavanagh in next week's $1.2 million Women's Wolf Cup of Golf at Sun City in South Africa.

Rebecca Coakley

Kavanagh and Coakley are guaranteed at least $4,250 each for 22nd and last place in the 54-hole extravaganza.

But Coakley, 25, has set her sights on a 10th place finish worth $35,250 as Ireland debut in the third edition of the revamped team event.

She said: "I've spoken with Hazel a couple of times and she's really looking forward to teaming up next week.

"Annika Soersnstam isn't playing for Sweden this year but it is a very strong field with players like Laura Davies, Juli Inkster and Paul Creamer and it is hard to know how it will go.

"You don't play foursomes that often, so that's a bit of an unknown but after the individual strokeplay on the first day, it is in the fourballs on the last day where the tournament will be won and lost.

"With 22 teams I think that if we can finish about 10th that will be a good result for us, so hopefully we can pull it off."

Coakley's long term goal is to play on the LPGA Tour in the US and earn her Solheim Cup stripes in 2011.

She said: "It is great to hear that Ireland is going to have the Solheim Cup in a few years time, especially after the success of the Ryder Cup last year.

"Hopefully I can get myself in contention for a place on that team in four years' time.

"I feel I am getting closer to the standard you need to play at to make something like a Solheim Cup team.

"In my rookie year, two years ago, I was 28th on the LET Order of Merit and I was hoping to finish in the top 20 last year.

"I got off to a great start by finishing third in Tenerife, which was my best finish as a pro, but I don't know it is was mental or not but I didn't push on from there and finished .

"I just need to get a little more consistency because I seem to make a lot of bogeys as well as a lot of birdies.

"So my goal this year is to improve my short game, get it up and down a lot more and keep those bogeys off my card."

The American Dream will have to wait at least one more year, though, after her failure to get her card in Florida late last year.

But Coakley, who was born in Adelaide to Irish parents, is not going to give up easily.

She explained: "It's tough to get your card in the US and I had a couple of bad rounds at the school this year, which really cost me.

"Once you have a bad round in the Q School it is really hard to get back into it but my goal is still to play in America some day.

"Last year I had conditional status, which meant that I got straight into the finals but I didn't get that this year so I will have to go through the preliminary stage if I decide to go this season.

"The problem is that the entry fee is $5,000 and with two trips to make I will have to see how I feel about my game before committing to the qualifying school again this season.

"The Team Ireland sponsorship is a huge help because it means that if you do well, you are actually earning money."

After next week's World Cup, Coakley will jet back to Australia and kick off the Ladies European Tour season with back to back tournaments at the Australian Open and the ANZ Ladies Masters.

She won't hook up with her former Irish amateur team mates Martina Gillen and Claire Coughlan until the LET hits European soil in early May with the Tenerife Ladies Open.

But she's looking forward to having some Irish pals on tour after Coughlan and Gillen came through the LET tour school last term.

She said: "Claire did really well to win the tour school and it was great to see Martina get the last spot.

"She was at the tour school when I went three years ago and just missed out so it was nice to see her get through this time.

"They've both been playing really well in amateur golf, making the Curtis Cup team, and it will be good to have them out there this year."