The Ladies European Tour travels to New Zealand this week for the ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open. World Number 1 Lydia Ko starts after winning in Australia last week.

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Lowdown:
The Ladies European Tour travels to New Zealand this week for the ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open. World Number 1 Lydia Ko starts after winning in Australia last week.

Ko won this event as a 15-year-old amateur in 2013 and was runner-up to Mi Hyang Lee of South Korea last season. Amazingly, this will be the 17-year-old’s sixth appearance in the tournament.

“I have so much fun playing the New Zealand Open. This is my sixth time playing here and every time I’ve had a great experience. To know that I’m 17 and this is my sixth is pretty cool. I’ve got so many great memories here at Clearwater and last year so many people came out to watch me play,” she said.

Ko will start as strong favourite this week, but she won’t be the only teenager with a good chance of victory. 2014 Order of Merit winner, Charley Hull of England comes into the tournament on the back of two top-10 finishes in Australia. Hull and Ko will be paired together in the first two rounds along with 18-year-old Su-Hyun Oh of Australia who won the recent RACV Ladies Masters.

The NZ Women’s Open was first contested in 2009 when Gwladys Nocera was the champion. The following year Dame Laura Davies came out on top – both women are in the field this week.

The course at Clearwater was designed with guidance from New Zealand golf legend Sir Bob Charles. It’s a fine layout, blending elements of the Scottish links with features of Florida’s great stadium tracks.

Venue: Clearwater Golf Club, New Zealand
Date: Feb 27 – Mar 1
Course stats: par 72, 6,227 yards
Purse: €200,000
Defending Champion: Mi Hyang Lee (-9)

Player Watch:
Lydia Ko – The World Number 1 was champion in last week’s Australian Open, she’s a former winner here and will have the home support. She’ll be tough to beat.

Charley Hull – Seventh last week in the Australian Open and runner-up in the RACV Ladies Masters, Hull should give Ko a run for her money.

Gwladys Nocera – The experienced Frenchwoman is a previous winner of this event and comes into the tournament on solid form with two top-20 finishes in her last two LET starts.

Key hole: 18th. This is a very difficult finishing hole, demanding precision on both drive and approach. The tee shot must avoid bunkers on the right of the fairway, out-of-bounds further right and a lake all up the left side. The water is a threat for the second shot too, anything turning to the left could end up wet.