The Road to the Ladies European Tour
Release Date : 04-Jan-2016 | Name : | Category : Golf
Author : Bethan Cutler
The LET Access Series was founded by the LET in 2010 to support young talent and create a clear pathway to becoming a successful professional golfer. Former LET chief executive officer Alexandra Armas was the visionary behind the introduction of the developmental series. The idea was to give talented female golfers a platform on which they could forward their careers. By testing themselves against their peers from around the world, talented elite amateurs could assess their performance level and make a decision on whether to turn professional, while pro golfers with no or little exemption category on a main tour could stay competitive by competing on a regular basis.In its first year, the LET Access Series featured five tournaments in France and Spain and the top three players qualified for the top flight Ladies European Tour. Now, in 2014, there are 16 tournaments in 12 different countries from the UK to Greece and the top five players on the order of merit earn their place on next year’s Ladies European Tour. Not only that, but the other 10 players finishing in the top 15 can skip pre-qualifying and go straight to LET Final Qualifying School.
This and the fact that last year the LET Access Series became integrated into the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings provides graphic proof that it is an attractive proposition for both players and sponsors. Three new tournaments were added for 2014 in Switzerland, Belgium and the Czech Republic and the event in Spain has just signed for another two years until 2016 – the year of golf’s return to the Olympics.
Since the LET Access Series was incorporated into the Rolex World Rankings in March 2013, LETAS golfers now have the opportunity to qualify for Rio. LETAS Tour Director Di Barnard said: “It is a great opportunity for the players to be recognised on the global golf stage, which could set them on the path to the Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.” LETAS is now one of 10 organisations whose events accrue points towards the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings along with the LPGA; LET; JLPGA; KLPGA; ALPG; CLPGA, USGA, Symetra Tour and LGU.
According to the proposed qualification system for Olympic golf, a field of 60 players, including up to four players from a given country in the top 15 and then a maximum of two from each country outside the top 15, will qualify. At the time of writing, Olympic qualification was going to 535th position, with Belgium’s Chloe Leurquin, Fabienne In-Albon of Switzerland and Mia Piccio of the Philippines all qualifying directly from LETAS. Piccio moved into that position after winning her first title in Galicia.
In total, there are 83 members of LETAS from 24 different countries who are all passionate and marketable athletes with interesting stories. This year, for the first time there are new golfing representatives from Poland, Iceland, Ivory Coast, and Hungary playing on LETAS: Martyna Mierzwa, Valdis Thora Jonsdottir, Natou Soro and Csilla Lajtai- Rozsa, respectively.
Player development is at the heart of the LET’s new vision and its CEO Ivan Khodabakhsh commented: “The Ladies European Tour is fully committed to the development of golf and we have a new strategy to offer talented golfers who want to develop their potential the opportunity to do so. Through the LET Access Series, PING Junior Solheim Cup and working closely with national federations and our members, we will enable more young people to become involved with the sport and support their progression throughout their careers.
The Ladies European Tour is one of the world’s leading professional golf tours and with golf’s inclusion in the Olympic programme, it is important that we take a leadership role in the sport.”