In a statement prior to the beginning of the European leg of the season, Alexandra Armas, executive director of the Ladies European Tour said, “We are delighted to be witnessing a year when the profile of ladies golf has never been higher and the Ladies European Tour with 25 events and prize money of €11.02m (£7.5m) is the highest ever in our history.
“With The Solheim Cup returning to Sweden in September and The Weetabix Women’s British Open being played at “The Home of Golf”, St Andrews, we are confident that 2007 will be the Tour’s most exciting year to date.
“The Solheim Cup at Halmstad will be at the forefront of everyone’s mind throughout the season and let’s hope that Helen Alfredsson and her team can bring The Cup back to Europe.”
The Ladies European Tour features four new tournaments in 2007: the MFS Women’s Australian Open, which was played at Royal Sydney in February, the Northern Ireland Ladies Open at Hilton Templepatrick Hotel and Country Club in June, the De Vere Ladies Scottish Open at The Carrick on Loch Lomond in September and the Madrid Ladies Masters in Spain in October.
The final major championship of the year, the Weetabix Women’s British Open, is always one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the season. In 2007 Tour players and staff alike are excited to be breaking new ground, as the event will be played on the Old Course at St Andrews in August. It is the first time that the home of golf will host a women’s professional tournament.
The inaugural Madrid Ladies Masters will be a limited field event which will feature a prize fund of €400,000. This will be the penultimate event of the season which will climax with The Dubai Ladies Masters in December.
New Star, sponsors of the New Star Money list have agreed a winner’s bonus of €20,000 and there are also three New Star Rookies who will receive €10,000 each.
The 18 Finest by Banque Baring Brothers Sturdza SA returns to the Ladies European Tour schedule for the second consecutive year with an increased prize fund of €110,000 including €55,000 for the winner. This unique tournament will take place over 18 holes at nine different tournament venues.
Players have the opportunity to earn a $1m pay cheque via the Volvo Cross Country Challenge, which is in its third year on the schedule. The Volvo Cross Country challenge is an added competitive structure for the following four events played in the Nordic region: Scandinavian TPC Hosted by Annika in Sweden, SAS Masters in Norway, Finnair Masters in Finland and Nykredit Masters in Denmark. This carries an additional prize fund of $150,000 for the top ten players on its order of merit and a Volvo car for the winner. Any player who can win all four Nordic events will earn $1m, the highest prize in Tour history.
In 2007 seven events will feature prize money in excess of €500,000 and eight existing events have increased their contracted prize funds. They are: the Women’s World Cup of Golf, the Tenerife Ladies Open, the Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open, the Vediorbis Open de France, KLM Ladies Open, the OTP Bank Ladies Central European open, the Catalonia Ladies Masters and the Scandinavian TPC Hosted by Annika. There will be ten more events in 2007 than in 2004, when there were 15 events on the LET schedule. There will be five more events than in 2005 and four more than in 2006, which demonstrates the increasing popularity of the Ladies European Tour.
The European leg of the 2007 LET schedule begins with the Tenerife Ladies Open this week, when Finland’s Riikka Hakkarainen will defend the title against a strong field at Golf Del Sur.
Ladies European Tour www.ladieseuropeantour.com