Bregman to Kick Some Bucks
The Ladies European Tour heads to British soil this week with the ISPS Handa Ladies European Masters. The event started in 2012 and has been held at the Buckinghamshire GC for the three years of the event. LPGA regulars have won the last two years with Karrie Webb in 2013 & I.K. Kim last year, Lydia Hall picked up the inaugural win. It is a full 72 hole event and will get underway at 7am UK time on Thursday 2nd July.
The clue is in the title with the course near the village of Denham in Buckinghamshire, just west of London at the start of the M40. An open parkland course it will play 6,501 yards for the ladies and a par 72. Although the John Jacobs designed course will have the 9's switched from normal, meaning water significantly comes into play on the back 9.
Fans of the Trilby Tour will recognise the course as a regular stop off point and it has also hosted European Senior Tour events. It also host US Women's Open Sectional Qualifying a few weeks ago.
The past winners have been:
||Players Under Par
The first two years the event was just 54 holes and so Webb's scoring is the lowest really, especially as Kim won by 5 as well.
The hot favourite for the event this week is Charley Hull
, at 48th she is the only player inside the top 60 in the world here this week. A ranking which has dropped from 33rd earlier in the year at the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco where she came 8th, her worst finish of the year at that point. Then headed over to the LPGA Tour where she was 26th in the year's first major, the ANA Inspiration, and 66th at the Kingsmill Championship. Then headed to China for the Buick Championship, the last LET event she played, and she was 18th there, before back to the US for 11th at the Manulife LPGA Classic and 26th at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. Here she has played all three years finishing in the top twenty each year with 18th, 9th & 14th. At 70.30 she has the 3rd best average round in the field and 70% (7/10) rounds under par for 6th best in the field.
Current leader of the LET is Gwladys Nocera
who has a very similar record to Hull here as they both tied for 18th in 2012 and 14th last year, however Hull finished 5 shots ahead of Nocera in 2013 with Nocera in 27th. Those 5 shots mean she averages 70.80 which is 6th best in the field and just two poor rounds, a 75 in 2012 & 76 in 2013, mean she has 80% (8/10) rounds under par which is 2nd best. She won in Morocco, but then missed the cut at the ANA Inspiration, returned to the LET and was 2nd in the Turkish Airlines Open, then headed back to the US for the KPMG Women's LPGA Championship and was 72nd, and then two weeks ago was 54th in the last LET event in Holland, so current form has dropped off recently.
With the best record here is Caroline Masson
who has been 3rd in both her visits over the last two years. That gives her the best average round at 68.43 which is 1.70 shots better then the next best, and 76% (6/7) rounds under par which is also the best in the field. Concern would be her form which is all on the LPGA Tour, missing 4 of her last 5 cuts, in North Texas & the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, did finish 19th at the Manulife LPGA Classic, then two more missed cuts at the KPMG Championship and again last week in NW Arkansas. Did manage 7th at the HSBC Women's Champions in March.
In 2nd on the LET order of merit at the moment is Melissa Reid
. Thanks mainly to her win at the Turkish Airlines Open in May, followed that with 20th at the US Open qualifying held at the Buckinghamshire, and then 10th in Holland. Doesn't have a great record here though, 18th in 2012 but has missed the cut in the last two years, just two rounds under par, both in 2012 for 29%, and an average round of just 74.43 which is 61st best in the field. Even 20th at the US Open qualifying was not a great performance with a 74 & 72.
Aussie Rebecca Artis
has been playing well this season and sits 12th on the Order of Merit. Started the year at the RACV Ladies Masters in her home town of the Gold Coast and was 16th, 65th in the Australian Open, and 25th in New Zealand, had her first top 10 of the year with 8th in China, then 20th in Morocco, 11th at the Buick Championship in China again, and 10th in the last event she played in Turkey. Whilst her last event was the US Open qualifier where she finished 16th, a shot ahead of Reid with a 72 & 73. Played well here in 2012 when 3rd and 9th in 2013, but then dropped off last year with 48th where she failed to break par until a 71 in the final round. Despite the result last year she still averages 71.00 which is 10th best in the field, and has 60% (6/10) of rounds under par, but that would've been 83% (5/6) & 69.83 in the first two years.
Also going well in the first two years here was Ashleigh Simon
who finished 3rd in 2012 and 2nd in 2013, but withdrew after a second round 78 last year, still did make the cut as she had opened with a 71. Despite that she still averages 70.13 which is the second best in the field and 75% (6/8) of rounds under par, but that would improve to 69.00 & 86% if you ignore the 78 last year. She's been playing on the LPGA Tour this year where she has struggled missing 6 of 11 cuts and finished no better than 42nd, with 60th last week in NW Arkansas.
In 4th in the last LET event in Amsterdam was another Johannesburg born player like Simon, Stacy Lee Bregman
. That was her best performance of the year with 32nd in Turkey, 43rd in the Buick Championship, 25th in Morocco and missed the cut in the first event in China, so just 5 events and is lightly raced. She was alongside Simon in 2012 in 3rd, and finished 6th last year, but missed the cut in between in 2013. Has an average round of 70.78 which is 5th best and 67% (6/9) rounds under par which is 8th best.
Final thoughts are looking at the US Open Qualifying held at the course at the end of May. Three players tied for the lead after the 36 holes on the one day and they were Holly Aitchinson & Maria Balikoeva
who both shot rounds of 72 & 68, whilst Heather MacRae
shot 75 & the round of the day a 65. Balikoeva has the best record of the three in this event when 23rd on debut last year, Aitchinson was 37th in 2012 but has missed the cut in the last two years, and MacRae makes her debut here.
All 3 have been struggling this year, MacRae is yet to make a cut whilst Aitchinson was 53rd & 63rd either side of the Qualifying, but just 2 of 4 cuts made. Whilst Balikoeva missed the cut in Holland, 32nd in Turkey, 30th in the Buick Championship but missed the cut in her first event.
No player is particularly jumping out at me for this event, the two with good records here, Masson & Simon, have been playing poorly on the LPGA Tour. Between two really for me with Artis going well in the first couple of years here and solid form with top 20's in her last 4 events or Bregman who also has two good performances here and went well last time out in Holland. I think therefore I will go with Stacy Lee Bregman
as good form here and in her last event.