Europeans set for strong challenge at Phoenix Gold

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The ‘ice cool’ Esther Henseleit. (Photo/Ladies European Tour)
The ‘ice cool’ Esther Henseleit. (Photo/Ladies European Tour)

Thursday, June 20, will see the start of the 2019 Ladies European Thailand Golf Championship at Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club in Pattaya. This is the third consecutive year the event will be staged at this top-class local course and it is rapidly becoming one of the most popular tournaments on the Ladies European Tour (LET).

The competition sees 56 European players going head to head against fifty Thai players, the latter who play on a variety of tours including the Thailand LPGA, The China LPGA and the Japan LPGA. The last two years has seen popular victories for schoolgirl prodigy Atthaya Thitikul and local player Kanyalak Preedasuttijit, both of whom will be back this year, while the European players have struggled to come to terms with the testing conditions.

This month the ladies from Europe will arrive with the strongest ever group including household names such as Trish Johnson, Beth Allen, Megan MacLaren, Marian Skarpnord and Caroline Hedwall. Other established players such as Flick Johnson, Becky Morgan and Becky Brewerton are also capable of lifting the trophy and picking a winner is no easy task.

It may be that one of the younger tour members will be more suited to the conditions the players will face at Phoenix. Without doubt the most consistent newcomer in 2019 has been the German Esther Hesneleit who will be arriving fresh from appearing at the US Open. Her sensational form has included six top-ten finishes from the tournaments she has entered but she is still searching for that elusive first victory. Her consistency and ice cool temperament will be ideal for the Phoenix course and if things go well it will be no surprise if she lifts the trophy.

Another tour newcomer, Dikshar Dagar, won the South African Open earlier in the year and her fine short game will be ideal for the challenges she will face in Pattaya. The left-hander from New Delhi will be more than capable of dealing with the heat that the players are sure to encounter.

Other players who will also fancy their chances include Carly Booth, Olivia Cowan, Annabel Dimmock and Noemi Jimenez-Martin, who have all previously played well in Thailand and will have the energy to compete over four rounds.

Last year the feeling from the Tour was that the fast greens were the main reason why no European had so far prevailed at Phoenix. In reality, jet lag and the unforgiving tropical heat were decisive factors, with many players not giving themselves enough time to acclimatize to the weather or the different time zone.

Could this be third time lucky for inform Olivia Cowan at Phoenix? (Photo/Ladies European Tour)
Could this be third time lucky for inform Olivia Cowan at Phoenix? (Photo/Ladies European Tour)

Another obstacle in the Europeans’ way this time will be the strong Thai field set to face them. Top-ten finishes in the previous two tournaments from Chonlada Chayanun, Arpichaya Yubol, Aunchisa Utama and Parinda Phokan will see them looking to follow in the footsteps of the two previous winners. There are also a number of other homegrown players who will be fancying their chances of capturing the second richest prize fund on offer in Thailand ladies golf.

The tournament once again promises to be a great event and it is virtually impossible to predict a winner. What is certain is that it will be an intriguing and exciting competition.

The 2019 Ladies European Thailand Golf Championship takes place at Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club in Pattaya from June 20-23. The tournament is co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour (LET) and Thai Ladies Professional Golf Association (Thai LPGA) and offers a total prize money of 300,000 Euros (approximately Bt11 million). It will be competed in a 72-hole stroke play format for four days. Only top 60 players, after 36 holes, will proceed to the weekend rounds.

Live TV coverage of the event can be followed on TrueSport HD3 on June 22 and 23 between 1pm – 4pm. Tickets for spectators are priced at Bt100 per day and are available at the public entrance to the course. Those under 18 and over 60 with relevant proof of age are exempt from course entrance fees.