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WPGA Championship returns

The WPGA Championship of Europe returns to the Evian Tour schedule from July 26-29 at the Royal Porthcawl GC after a gap of one season, and Europe's top women golfers will descend on this fantastic links course in a bid to take their share of the £400,000 prizefund, the third richest on Tour.

The WPGA Championship has long been ecognised as a top event in the women's calendar and boasts a strong list of winners since its inception in 1996, such as Sweden's Helen Alfredsson, Scotland's Catriona Matthew and former World number one, England's Laura Davies.

Having been taken off last years schedule after sponsors McDonald's chose to pursue other avenues of publicity, the Welsh Ryder Cup bid committee took the event on board as part of the 2009 Ryder Cup bid for the Celtic Manor resort in Newport.

The WPGA Championship will be the biggest event at Royal Porthcawl GC since the 1995 Walker Cup where the Great Britain and Ireland amateurs defeated the USA 14-10. During that week, a young man by the name of Tiger Woods was dramatically defeated at the last hole by English veteran Gary Wolstenholme in their first singles encounter, and as much drama is expected when the cream of Ladies European golf pit their skills on this, a 5750 yard gem of a seaside course.

Solheim Cup stars, England's Alison Nicholas and Trish Johnson, Spain's Raquel Carriedo and Sweden's Carin Koch, who holed the winning putt at Loch Lomond last year, have entered, and more top names are expected to confirm as the best players in the world prepare for the new "Major" in Women's golf, the Weetabix Women's British Open, held the following week at Sunningdale GC in Berkshire.

Local interest at Porthcawl will centre on Abergeveny's Becky Morgan, who, in her rookie season, has brought her strong amateur record into the professional ranks. Morgan finished runner up in her European debut at the Ladies French Open last month, after being narrowly defeated in a playoff by Norway's Suzann Pettersen.

The 27-year-old two-time Curtis Cup player is dividing her season between the Evian Tour and the LPGA, where she recorded her best finish in the Longs Drugs Challenge in April, sharing seventh place.

Also returning from their sojourn on the LPGA is Ascot's Johanna Head and Sale's Joanne Morley. Head will join her twin sister Samantha, winner earlier in the year in South Africa as they search for the £60,000 first prize and valuable Solheim Cup points.

Tim Howland, chief executive of the Evian Ladies European Tour conveyed his thoughts of the Championship:

"This is going to be a wonderful event and it is always great to see links golf played on Tour. The best players in Europe will have to use all their guile and cunning around this fantastic course and I am confident that whoever wins, will be a truly all round golfer.

"The venue is spectacular and I am sure that that quality of golf will match the prizefund. We can foresee that the WPGA Championship will become an established event on the Tour for many years to come."

Tony Lewis, chairman of the Wales 2009 Ryder Cup bid committee hoped that the WPGA would be a permanent fixture for Welsh golf.

"Staging a major women's event is part our strategy for developing golf in Wales. If our bid is successful, it will be possible to make the event a permanent fixture on the golfing calendar for the next 10 years.

"We have cut no corners in our efforts to bring the 2009 Ryder Cup to Wales for the very first time. We are also determined to showcase our strengths by supporting the Ladies European Tour as well as the men's European and Seniors Tours."

 


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