The LET returns to The International in Amsterdam for the Deloitte Ladies Open June 19-21. Kylie Walker, who claimed her first pro victory last year at the Deloitte, is looking forward to defending her title and, with her brother Kris again on the bag, perhaps to moving up a notch or two on the LET’s Solheim Cup points list. Given the strength of the field at the Deloitte, I just don’t see either outcome.
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Walker’s 2014 Deloitte victory, which came with a birdie on the 2nd playoff hole against Nikki Campbell and Malene Jorgensen, juiced up the 28-year old Scot’s game last year. Playing with buoyed-up confidence, Walker went on from Amsterdam to a 2nd victory at the Ladies German Open and ended her year ranked 11th on the LET Order of Merit.
However, Walker’s been having a lackluster year, finishing well down the leaderboard at the early season Australian and Asian events, and not really opening up her game until her 3rd place finish at the Turkish Airlines Open. Perhaps the Deloitte could prove to be her 2015 turnaround event, but I’m doubtful.
Kylie Walker of Scotland with the Deloitte Ladies Open trophy . Credit LET/Tristan Jones
The International is a new track and it’s also a challenging one. It opened in November 2012, just before Holly Clyburn claimed her first LET title at the venue in her rookie season of 2013.
The links-style course, which runs through a dramatic dunes landscape, has won acclaim from many Ladies European Tour members over the past two years, including Kylie Walker:
"“The golf course is a really good, tough test and you need to be hitting it well off the tee but your irons need to be good as well because the greens are big and quite slopey, so you need to hit it in the right spots.”"
Walker is coming into her Deloitte Ladies Open title defense feeling confident about her game. She’s playing with a new Ping G30 driver and likes the length — she’s averaging 258 yards off the tee — and the accuracy — she’s hitting 69% of the fairways — it’s giving her as well a greater sense of control over her ball striking. She’s going to need that control this week as she faces off against some tough challengers.
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At 9th on the LET’s points’ list, Walker is now attempting to qualify for a debut Solheim Cup appearance in Germany this September. But going into the Deloitte Walker has a bit of a points deficit and will need to play past Valentine Derrey and Melissa Reid in order to get inside the top four spots that would automatically qualify her for the European team.
That’s not going to be an easy or straightforward task. Valentine Derrey, Gwladys Nocera and Melissa Reid are all in the field, and Nocera and Reid are the LET’s No1 and No2 ranked players respectively. They’re both former Dutch Open champions competing to cement their own places on the European side of the Solheim Cup.
Reid claimed the Deloitte Ladies Open at Broekpolder GC in Rotterdam in 2011 and she’s been having a much stronger 2015 season than Walker, including a victory at the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open. She’s also longer off the tee than Walker and she’s more accurate. I don’t think Walker can outplay her.
Nocera will also be tough to beat this week. Like Reid, she’s been having a generally stronger season than Walker and is bringing her Lalla Meryem Cup victory to the Deloitte Ladies Open. Nocera’s shorter off the tee than either Reid or Walker, but she’s also considerably more accurate and has a good command of her flat stick. I’m thinking Nocera will be the one to beat and that Reid has a much better chance of doing that than Walker.
Other notable names in the field include Dame Laura Davies, Trish Johnson, Becky Brewerton, Florentyna Parker, Camilla Lennarth and the 2013 champion Holly Clyburn, but the largest galleries are almost certain to belong to the groups featuring the star Dutch players: Dewi Claire Schreefel who won last year’s Helsingborg Open and former European Solheim Cup team member Christel Boeljon.
Boeljon could be the wild card at the Deloitte Ladies Open. She’s been playing on the LPGA Tour this year and while she’s missed a number of cuts, I saw her pull a very strong game out of her bag at the ShopRite LPGA Classic and claim a runner-up finish. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see her do that again in Amsterdam this week.
I’m seeing a final round contest at the Deloitte between Gwladys Nocera and Christel Boeljon.