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LET Launches New Team Match Play Event

You can’t fault them for trying.

The Ladies European Tour announced early this morning that next Tuesday a team match-play event will take place on Hainan Island (China’s version of Maui, and known by Americans of a certain age as the place where a U.S. EP-3 spy plane went down in April 2001, creating a mild international incident).

The Goodwill Trophy will pit professionals from Europe against a team from Asia on the Blackstone Course at Mission Hills Haikou, prior to the World Ladies Championship. Suzann Pettersen will captain the European squad and Inbee Park will head up the Asian team.

It won’t be much more than a hit-and-giggle exhibition, but those in charge are hopeful that it can be a germ for a more substantive event in the future.

According to LET CEO Ivan Khodabakhsh, “Europe’s historic and record-breaking Solheim Cup victory over the United States last year was a massive boost for women’s golf and inspired fans around the world. The Goodwill Trophy is a fantastic opportunity to build on that, albeit against different opponents in a new and much more relaxed setting.”

Team Asia will include Park (a playing captain), So Yeon Ryu, China’s own Shanshan Feng and Xi Yu Lin, a pair of players from Thailand, Ariya Jutanugarn and Nontaya Srisawang, and two from Taiwan, Tzu-Chi Lin and Pie-Yun Chien.

Pettersen’s European team will have Holly Clyburn, Hannah Burke and Trish Johnson from England, Gwladys Nocera, Valentine Derrey and Joanna Klatten from France and Italy’s Diana Luna.

No one expects a lot of interest in a Tuesday women’s match on an obscure island in China that once was little more than a military supply outpost for North Vietnam, but hope springs eternal.

“We’re delighted to be hosting the first women’s Goodwill Trophy and we hope this will be the forerunner to a new tournament in its own right,” said Mission Hills Group Vice Chairman Tenniel Chu, a good guy who got his start in the golf business working the cart barn at TPC-Sawgrass.

“Last year’s Solheim Cup win was a milestone for women’s golf in Europe while the strength of the ladies’ game in Asia has been evident for years with players achieving fantastic results across all the major tours,” he said. “So it is natural to put European and Asian teams in opposition for this inaugural tournament.

“Team golf ignites passions, fires the imagination and gives players and spectators alike a markedly different experience from individual events and we’re sure everyone is going to enjoy the competition.”


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