For the first time, the Ladies European Tour will stage an Asian pre-qualifier for its 2015 Lalla Aicha Tour School, in response to the increasing global interest in joining the tour and its continued commitment to the development of women’s golf.
The four round pre-qualifier will be played on the Vintage Course at Mission Hills Haikou in China, the course which hosted the inaugural World Ladies Championship in 2012.
“The Ladies European Tour (LET) is delighted to be expanding the qualifying process to become more accessible and accommodate players from around the world,” said Ivan Khodabakhsh, the LET’s Chief Executive Officer. “It is important that the LET is relevant in the markets in which we play and reflects the diversity and strength of international women’s golf.”
The LET’s Director of Development and Membership, Mike Round, commented: “The addition of a pre-qualifier in China will definitely help to grow women’s golf in the region and will allow fresh talent to follow the LET’s development pathway in order to fulfil their potential as a professional golfer.”
The pre-qualifier provides another gateway for Asian women players to Europe and beyond, with the potential for a strong field of competitors given Asia’s standing in the game globally. China’s national Olympic golf team is already training at Mission Hills Resort and this development will provide further impetus as the players target Olympic glory in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Mr Tenniel Chu, Vice Chairman, Mission Hills Group, commented: "We are proud of our pioneering tradition at Mission Hills and we have a history of 'firsts', so we are delighted to be hosting this first-ever Asian pre-qualifying tournament for the Ladies European Tour.
"Women's golf has always been at the core of our development programmes, including establishing the Annika Invitational at Mission Hills, the first girls-only junior tournament in Asia, and creating a pathway for promising female junior players to graduate to elite levels of the game.
"We have also created the LET-sanctioned World Ladies Championship, with its unique three-in-one format for professionals, teams and amateurs, which we have staged at Mission Hills Haikou for the past three years. "With this latest initiative, we are honoured to extend our relationship with the LET and we look forward to staging a successful first Asian pre-qualifying event."
There will be three 72-hole pre-qualifiers in total, including two in Morocco. The first takes place on Royal Golf Dar Es Salam’s Blue Course in Rabat on 30 October-2 November 2014. Following the second pre-qualifier on the Vintage Course at Mission Hills Haikou in China on 5-8 November 2014, the third pre-qualifier will be staged on Royal Golf Dar Es Salam’s Red Course on 8-11 December 2014.
As in 2013, the 90-hole Lalla Aicha Tour School Final Qualifier will be hosted at Al Maaden and Samanah Golf courses in Marrakech, Morocco, on 17-21 December 2014, with the final round to be played on the Samanah Golf Course.
Photograph: The ninth hole on The Vintage Course at Mission Hills Haikou in China, which will host Ladies European Tour pre-qualifying on 5-8 November 2014.