Amy Boulden, a member of the victorious 2012 GB&I Curtis Cup team, will make her professional debut at this week’s WPGA International Challenge on the Ladies European Tour Access Series (LETAS).
The 20-year-old Conwy star is looking forward to testing her game at the professional level after enjoying a distinguished amateur career including wins at the 2013 English and 2012 Welsh Women’s Stroke Play Championships.
The Challenge, which is the only LETAS event to be played in the UK, will take place at Stoke by Nayland Hotel Golf and Spa, on the Suffolk/Essex border, over 54 holes of stroke play from Thursday September 26 to Saturday September 28.
Amy turned professional just after the Home Internationals a couple of weeks ago and said: “I first thought I was going to wait until Tour School, I decided I didn’t really want to play another year as an amateur, so I thought I’ll play in the Ladies’ Home Internationals with the Welsh team and we got a win there so I thought that was the perfect time to turn professional.”
Wales have won the Home Internationals three times in the last six years and Amy has been on all of these teams. And Wales had not won for over 100 years before then.
“I am going to play this week and next week. Then, my sister works out in Abu Dhabi Golf Club so I am going to go and do some practice there for a few weeks, to get myself ready for Tour School,” she said.
“I’ve played a lot of golf with Charley (Hull). I played a lot with Holly Clyburn as well, so to see how well they have done, to be in teams with them, it just gives you a bit of confidence in turning pro to know you can do it as well.
“I’ve got into three Ricoh Women’s British Opens; I played at the Buckinghamshire last year so I’ve had some experience playing in pro events so hopefully I can take that with me. Just going to go out there and play how I have; I’ve had a good season so far this year, especially the last couple of months so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.”
A total of 20 WPGA members will compete in the event as well as 20 elite female amateurs with the support of England Golf.
The international field of 118 competitors includes Alison Nicholas, Europe’s winning captain at the 2011 Solheim Cup and a past US Open champion. Nicholas, who was awarded an MBE in 1997 for her services to golf, has had a stellar career in the sport including playing in six Solheim Cup teams as well as leading the European team to victory in the United States two years ago. Aside from her major victory, when she beat the legendary Nancy Lopez, Nicholas amassed a further 17 Tour wins across the world.
Nicole Loch Larsen of Denmark, who won her first two events as a professional, will also be playing, along with Spain’s Mireia Prat, who leads the LETAS order of merit, Louise Larsson of Sweden and England’s Lauren Taylor, who turned pro a week ago.
Di Barnard, Tour Director of the LET Access Series said: “We are looking forward to working with the PGA and also the venue, Stoke by Nayland Hotel Golf & Spa, which will offer first class facilities for the players.
“The LET Access Series was formed to create additional playing opportunities for female golfers and also to provide an important link between elite amateur and professional golf. We are also delighted to have the support of England Golf and will welcome a number of elite English amateurs to compete in the event.”
The opportunity for England’s leading women amateurs to get valuable experience has been praised by Nigel Edwards, performance director at England Golf.
He said: “England Golf is delighted to be a partner with the LET Access Series. The Access Series provides a valuable opportunity for our top players as they progress from their amateur career by providing entry to competitive professional events.
“Stoke by Nayland will provide a challenging venue and we know the team there will bring experience from their previous support of the European Challenge Tour and Senior Tour and deliver an excellent event for players and spectators alike.”
Situated in an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ on the Suffolk/Essex border, Stoke by Nayland has the experience of staging European Challenge Tour, European Senior Tour and PGA Europro events, and is looking forward to returning to the international golf stage this week.