Just a matter of days after the European Tour left Ireland behind after another successful 3 Irish Open, the Ladies European Tour arrives on Irish soil ready for this week’s AIB Ladies Irish Open.
Among those making the trip to Killeen Castle, the venue for next year’s Solheim Cup, this week are world number four Suzann Pettersen, Anna Nordqvist, Laura Davies, Christina Kim and Ricoh Women’s British Open runner-up Katherine Hull, making it the strongest field in the tournament’s history.
Cavan twins Leona and Lisa Maguire and their Curtis Cup team-mate Danielle McVeigh also tee it up this week, with play beginning on Friday.
Others carrying the hopes of the home crowd this week include Rebecca Coakley, who is currently inside the Top 50 in the Henderson Money List, Hazel Kavanagh, US-based Alison Walshe, Martina Gillen and Tara Delaney.
With the stunning Jack Nicklaus-designed layout at Killeen Castle hosting the Solheim Cup in just over twelve months this week is an ideal time for European captain Alison Nicholas and her American counterpart Rosie Jones to get a close look at the venue.
“We’ll have a look at what the players think of the course in the practise rounds and during the week. The course is set up a little bit shorter than the Solheim will be but all the players have got the information in terms of the yardages.” Nicholas said.
“We don’t have any major secrets really but I’ve always got to remember that the American players are very, very good players and they adapt very well to anything.
“We’ve got some work to do and it’s always going to be a tough match because they are always very good. My players are getting ready for it. We’ve lost over the last three occasions so they will be up for it.”
Despite all the talk of next year’s Solheim Cup, favourite to win the title this week Suzann Pettersen is focussing her efforts on winning the title rather than just treating the week as a scouting mission.
She said: “Never mind the Solheim Cup being played at Killeen; I’m playing the Irish Open because it’s a great tournament. I always look forward to competing in Ireland and this is one of the best events on our schedule.”
The ever-colourful Christina Kim is also looking forward to her time in Ireland.
“We landed yesterday just around 12 hours ago and a couple of the girls and I went down to the Temple Bar area. We had a few bevies and partied it up a bit. It an amazing experience.” she said
“It’s a beautiful area and the land is incredible and the people have been so kind, so it’s been amazing. We just drove up here and it was breathtaking seeing the castle and seeing the miles and miles and miles of flower and foliage. I thought I saw Bambi back there, it was incredible. It’s absolutely stunning here.
“I’m feeling very good about my game and the fact that I felt like I had a bad week but nevertheless managed to squeeze out a top ten in a major certainly helps.
“That is a good sign so hopefully I’ll be able to come in and provide a little entertainment while being able to play well at the same time.”