The field’s getting warmed up for the World Ladies Championship at the Mission Hills Resort Blackstone Course in Haikou, China. The event features a unique three-in-one tournament format comprising an Individual Professional Competition played over 72-holes of individual stroke-play; a 72 hole Professional Team Competition in which the scores of the top two players from 18 countries represented will be combined to determine the winning team; and a 72-hole stroke-play Individual Amateur Competition.
But wait. There’s more! There’s the Goodwill Trophy, a back-nine match play event between Asian and European players, a warm-up to the stroke play competition. World Ranked No. 1 Inbee Park led the Asian team and No. 2 Suzann Pettersen led the European team.
The results of this “friendly team competition,” which was played today, are a lens into the World Ladies Championship. If we look closely, we’ll also get a preview of how things may go at the LPGA International Crown in July, where the South Korean team is currently favored.
Eight players from each continent competed in a four-ball, better-ball match play tussle on the back nine holes of the signature Blackstone course at Mission Hills Haikou in China. Perhaps following the LPGA’s lead with the International Crown, organizers hope the Goodwill Trophy could be the forerunner to a new event.
Fielding three of the world’s top seven players, Asia proved to be the better team and Captain Inbee Park accepted the trophy after defeating the Europeans by a score of 3-1.
It was good fun and that’s the first time I’ve seen the back nine so it was good learning for the golf course and we played very well together.
Inbee Park, World Ranked No 1
Park and fellow Korean So Yeon Ryu, ranked fifth in the world, led the way in the top match with a 2&1 victory over European Captain Suzann Pettersen of Norway and Joanna Klatten of France.
In the second match, Tzu-Chi Lin and Pei-Yun Chien of Chinese Taipei, also represented at the International Crown, defeated England’s Hannah Burke and Holly Clyburn by 3&2.
French team-mates Gwladys Nocera and Valentine Derrey took the sole point for the Europeans by winning 1 up against Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn and Nontaya Srisawang. Thailand, too, will be represented at the International Crown.
Meanwhile Chinese duo Shanshan Feng, defending champ at the World Ladies Championship, and Xi Yu Lin won 2 up over former Solheim Cup players Trish Johnson of England and Diana Luna of Italy.
Our game today was all about goodwill because even though we were competitors, together with Diana and Trish we were cheering for each other and teasing each other too. We had a great time and I think that’s what the Goodwill Trophy is all about.
Shanshan Feng, 2012 World Ladies Championship winner
The US$600,000 Mission Hills World Ladies Championship is co-sanctioned by Ladies European Tour and China LPGA Tour and be the fourth event on this year’s Ladies European Tour schedule. It’s organized in conjunction with the China Golf Association.
Although there’s no television coverage scheduled for US-based fans, the third and fourth rounds will be broadcast live on UTUBE, 5:30-8:30 am GMT on Saturday, March 8 and Sunday, March 9. This link will get you there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xj1wa8jPqeQ.