Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall, representing Team Europe, notched up her third Solheim Cup trophy last week at Gleneagles and is, now, aiming to defend her title at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France, scheduled from 19 to 22 September at the Golf du Médoc Resort, near Bordeaux.
Europe’s great comeback to defeat the USA by the slightest margin of 14 ½ – 13 ½ is akin to Hedwall’s triumph at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France in 2018.
Hedwall, en route to her sixth Ladies European Tour (LET) title, produced an incredible course record nine-under-par 62 in the final round and overcame a seven strokes deficit behind the overnight leader Nanna Koerstz Madsen.
“I have great memories from last year here. I am excited to be back. I really like this Golf Course. It suits me very well. Hopefully, I can have a couple of good rounds and be up there in contention this year too,” said Hedwall. “I have played the back-nine now and it is in great shape this year, as well. It will be a great week for some good golf.”
Currently fourth on the LET Order of Merit, Hedwall has four Top-5s under her belt this season and will be hoping to fend off her competitors in defence of her title.
Some of the notable challengers are Céline Boutier – the in-form local girl who emerged invincible in her Solheim Cup debut last week, winning four points out of four – and fellow European Solheim Cup star Azahara Munoz from Spain – who successfully defended her title at this event in 2014 at Chantaco.
It was Boutier’s namesake Celine Herbin who last kept the trophy at home in 2015. After having enjoyed a perfect Solheim Cup debut week, Boutier, also a two-time winner on the Tour, will be keen to add the National Open to her trophy cabinet.
After the winning on Sunday at Gleneagles, Spanish professional Azahara Munoz is high on confidence, too.
They are joined by young star United States Solheim Cup player Nelly Korda – a two-time LPGA Champion and highest ranked player in the field, at 10th on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.
Nelly, in her third season as a professional, is keen to put her name on the list of champions at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France, as fellow Americans Beth Allen and Cristie Kerr have in recent years.
For the 29th edition of Lacoste Ladies Open de France, the prize purse will be €325,000, which is the highest in the history of the tournament. The field will consist of 108 players with 26 French nationals including the lone amateur Candice Mahe.
Céline Boutier to Challenge for her National Open
Solheim Cup heroine Céline Boutier, France’s top ranked golfer in the world at 56th on the Rolex Rankings, is confident of contending this week in the Lacoste Ladies Open de France, which tees off tomorrow at the Golf du Médoc Resort, near Bordeaux.
The National Open of France will be played for a tournament record highest prize purse of €325,000 among a field consisting of 108 players.
Boutier leads the local charge of the 26-strong French contingent and will have to surpass challengers including the defending champion Caroline Hedwall and another Solheim Cup star, Azahara Munoz, who has tasted success at this event twice in 2013 and 2014. Another strong contender is American star Nelly Korda – the highest ranked player in the field at 10th on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. She will be hoping to join Beth Allen and Cristie Kerr who won this championship in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Boutier is coming fresh from a historic Solheim Cup win with Team Europe, in which she played a pivotal role amassing four points from her four matches. She combined with Georgia Hall for two wins in foursomes and another in Saturday’s fourballs, before she best Annie Park by 2&1 in the fourth singles match on Sunday.
“It was pretty unbelievable. I think we all did believe in our chances. We all thought we had a very good team. Everyone brought out the best of themselves. For me, I thought I played better than I thought I would. It was just great to share that with everyone on the team,” Boutier said.
“The whole Sunday, it was a pretty tight match and we all knew that every point was going to count. Just the fact that Suzann had the last putt to win made everything better.”
After an emotionally and physically draining week of golf in Scotland, the 25-year-old from Paris is looking forward to playing in home conditions and add a third LET title to her CV, following on from the 2017 Sanya Ladies Open and 2018 Australian Ladies Classic Bonville.
“I feel tired, physically, because we played a lot of golf last week. But, I am also very happy to be back in France and to be playing in front of the home crowd. I am super excited to get the tournament going. I was not really sure how good or bad I would be after last week. I have played golf team tournaments before and I know how physically demanding it can be, as you give it your all,” said Boutier, who is hoping to give France a home winner for the seventh time in the tournament’s 29th edition. The previous French winners are Celine Herbin (2015), Stephanie Arricau (2004), Patricia Meunier Lebouc (2000), Marie Laure de Lorenzi (1995, 1993 and 1998).
“Obviously, I would like to win the tournament. I have not been able to do so. It’s a national open for me, so it is something that I would want to win. The course is very different from last week. There are not many similarities between the two courses, but I think you just have to adapt to every course; that’s what I do from week to week so it’s not going to change this week.”
Boutier starts her first round at 1.24pm in the company of Nelly Korda and Celine Herbin.
American star Nelly Korda gunning for another win away from home
The 29th edition of Lacoste Ladies Open de France will witness the maiden appearance of 21-year-old American star Nelly Korda from 19 to 22 September at the Golf du Médoc Resort, near Bordeaux.
Korda is a two-time LPGA champion and is currently ranked 10th on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, which also makes her the highest ranked player, this week, in the 108-strong field.
Having turned pro in 2016, Korda has earned both of her LPGA Tour triumphs away from home – Taiwan in October, 2018 and Australia in February, 2019.
After contributing an impressive 3.5 points to the cause of Team USA in the recently concluded Solheim Cup, Korda is hopeful of carrying that form through the week here and win her first LET title in France.
“Hopefully, that’s the goal going into this week. I am just looking forward to my first tee shot and then I’ll see it from there,” she said.
“It is not my first time in France. I’ve played Evian three times but I like it a lot. This golf course is really nice and it’s probably one of the best European golf courses I have ever played. I am really looking forward to starting tomorrow,” she added.
After the grueling week of the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles, Scotland, Korda managed to get a feel of the golf course today.
“I am recovering; I slept until 1pm yesterday. I did not leave the hotel room, but getting out here and walking 18 holes has helped,” she added.
Korda believes that the course is playing long and how well you manage to play the greens will be the key to success in France this week.
Having endured the cold Scottish conditions, Korda added, “I am still de-frosting from last week. The course here is pretty linksy, so, in ways it’s similar (to last week) but the greens are massive and that’s going to be the key this week – just figuring out the greens. And, it’s playing quite long, too. My caddie has caddied in a couple of LET events and he said that this golf course plays a lot longer than what the usual LET events play.”