Chen said KwaZulu-Natal was a happy hunting ground for her during her illustrious amateur career, and after a practice round at the coastal layout on Monday, the Gauteng golfer is optimistic about her chances in the WPGA and Ladies European Tour (LET) co-sanctioned event.
SOUTHBROOM, KwaZulu-Natal (18 April 2013) – South Africa’s Connie Chen is optimistic of a maiden professional breakthrough at this week’s South African Women’s Open, which tees off at Southbroom Golf Club on Friday.
“I feel quite positive after the practice round, because this course is similar in layout and set-up to Umhlali Country Club, where I shot some low numbers before,” she said.
“It’s quite a tight layout. You have to be pretty accurate off the tees and it requires a lot of long irons into the greens. That suits my eye, and my game. The greens are pretty firm, too, which also suits my style. I really enjoyed the practice round and I feel good about the week ahead.”
As a top amateur, Chen won a host of titles, including the 2010 South African Girls Championship. She represented South Africa at the 2010 World Amateur Championships before she joined the paid ranks.
In her debut season on the LET in 2011 she retained her card, making seven cuts in 13 events and with a top finish of seventh in the Finnair Masters.
This season her best finish is tied 14th in the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open in February, and she’s currently in 61st position on the LET Order of Merit.
“The first two years were a huge learning curve, but I feel that I have finally adjusted,” the 20-year-old said.
“The LET events are often widely spread and all that travelling took some getting use to. I’m pretty happy that I’ve become more consistent.”
Chen finished tied 28th in the 2012 South African Women’s Open, and is hoping to make a bigger impact this week.
“I was pretty disappointed last year. I felt like I had let myself down, but I realised later that it was just part of the adjustment period. I feel a lot more confident this year. The winner this week will earn a two-year exemption on the LET and that would mean the world to me.”
The 2013 SA Women’s Open has drawn a strong international field of players from over 20 countries, including multiple tournament winners and two former LET Order of Merit champions in South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace and France’s Gwladys Nocera.
Other LET champions include Stacey Keating from Australia, Scotland’s Carly Booth, Welsh player Becky Brewerton and French player Anne-Lise Caudal.
Rising stars Cheyenne Woods, the niece of Tiger Woods, and 16-year-old English sensation Charley Hull, who is mentored by British legend Tony Jacklin, will debut at Southbroom.
This year’s event offers an increased purse of €290 000 and will also feature live international and local TV coverage as it continues its resurgence in partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal local government and the Hibiscus Coast Municipality.