Pace, Reid head strong LET field

With eight 2010 Tour winners and seven top tenners from the LET Money List playing, the UNIQA Ladies Open is chock full of class.

With eight of this year’s tournament winners in the field and seven players from the top ten on the Henderson Money List, this week’s UNIQA Ladies Open is set to be a tougher, tighter battle than ever before.

Lee-Anne Pace is clearly the woman to watch, having collected her third title of the season in Finland last week,

She is enjoying a tremendous run of form, having won two of her last three tournaments and tied for second at the other. After earning her maiden LET victory at the Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open in June, she has recently enjoyed a three week magical spell, winning the S4C Wales Ladies Championship of Europe, tying for second at the Aberdeen Ladies Scottish Open and triumphing again at the Finnair Masters on Sunday.

The talented South African leads the Henderson Money List by a large margin and cannot be dislodged by second ranked Melissa Reid this week – even if the Englishwoman secures the €30,000 first prize.

However, Pace will be determined to extend her lead in the money title race to enhance her chance of securing the €20,000 prize and importantly, a 10 year exemption to the Ladies European Tour.

Reid, who is bidding for her second title after winning the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open in May, returns to competition after a two week break to take her place in this €200,000 tournament, which returns to Golf Club Foehrenwald in Wiener Neustadt for the sixth successive year.

The third best ranked player in the field is England’s Laura Davies, who is currently fourth on the Henderson Money List after her two victories this season in Germany and New Zealand.

Davies is a two-time event champion having won in 2007 and 2008 and feels that the course suits her game perfectly. She almost made it a triple last year, but lost to Sweden’s Linda Wessberg at the second play-off hole.

“It won’t be easy, because with this strong field there are a number of players who can win, but I know this course and it suits my game and that helps my chances,” Davies said.

Davies, with 74 tournament victories, is joined by Virginie Lagoutte-Clement of France, ranked sixth on the Henderson Money List after her victory at the Aberdeen Ladies Scottish Open a fortnight ago.

The next best ranked player at seventh is Germany’s Anja Monke, the Lalla Meryem Cup winner in Morocco, followed by ninth ranked Vikki Laing from Scotland, the runner-up last week in Finland and tenth ranked Florentyna Parker of England, the ABN AMRO Ladies Open champion.

England’s Trish Johnson, who won the Tenerife Ladies Open in July, joins the field as one of this year’s tournament winners along with Australian Karen Lunn, the Portugal Ladies Open victor and the 2005 event champion Federica Piovano from Italy. Experienced Spaniard Tania Elosegui has also returned from the United States to join the star-studded field.

There are eight Austrians competing, led by Nicole Gergely, who last year became the first Austrian to win a Ladies European Tour title as she triumphed by two shots in the Vediorbis/Randstad Open de France Dames. The other three professionals are Stefanie Michl, Eva Steinberger and Natascha Grossschadel-Fink, with four Austrian amateurs: Michaela Gasplmayr, Marlies Krenn, Sarah Schober and Marina Stutz.

Golf Club Foehrenwald is set up at 6243 yards for the tournament and is a par 72 (37-35). The course is playing similarly to in previous years and has drained well after heavy rain from Sunday until Tuesday afternoon.