Lottie Woad has admitted it will be a thrill to kickstart her 2020 season by competing alongside many of her golfing idols in the first event of the Rose Ladies Series.
The England Girls’ squad player (pictured above left) is one of three amateurs taking part in tomorrow’s 18-hole professional event at Brokenhurst Manor Golf Club in Hampshire.
England Golf ambassador Justin Rose is sponsoring eight such events between now and August.
England women’s squad player Mimi Rhodes (pictured above centre) – winner of the Justin Rose Telegraph Junior Golf Championship in Portugal last year – has also been invited to the star-studded tournament.
Under 16 international Louise Burke (pictured above right) from Dorset is the third England Golf representative in the field of 51 players.
This is the first post-lockdown event for players predominantly earning a living on the Ladies’ European Tour.
It’s an exciting return to action for the women’s game – with stars such as Charley Hull, Meg Maclaren, Alice Hewson and Dame Laura Davies top of the bill.
The 2013 US Open winner and reigning Olympic champion Rose has sponsored the seven-event series and grand final with backing from retail outlet American Golf. Sky Sports will provide TV coverage.
Woad has spent the past few months practising solidly in her garden eagerly anticipating the day when she could return to competitive golf.
The fact that her comeback is in such a landmark event just makes the prospect even more exciting for the 16-year-old from Surrey.
“It’s my first ever pro event and my first competition of the year,” admitted Woad.
“I’ve not played an event since October when England took on Ireland at Hunstanton.
“I read on Twitter that these ladies’ events were starting up and I got in contact with the organiser, LET player Liz Young, to ask about amateurs being involved.
“Then Justin Rose came on board as a sponsor and last Thursday I heard back that I was one of three amateur invites.
“It’s a brilliant way to start the season and I found out on Monday that I was paired with Meg Maclaren which is really exciting.
“Meg (pictured below) was speaking to England players during an online session a few weeks ago and it was great fun and very helpful so I’m looking forward to getting the chance to now play with her.”
As with all sporting events during the COVID-19 outbreak, the safety of the players, staff and organisers is of paramount importance with no spectators allowed and appropriate health checks and social distancing rules all in place.
Although there may be some butterflies on the first tee for the England trio, Woad is just eager to get back on the course with a card in her hand.
“I won’t overthink things and just try to play my own game and not get caught up in the event itself,” added Woad who will have dad Nick on the bag.
“I was down at Brokenhurst at the weekend to play a practice round – its less than an hour’s drive from where I live so really easy to get to.
“It’s a beautiful course and we even had a herd of deer join us on one of the holes!
“I feel my golf is in good shape as I’ve spent most of lockdown practising. My GCSE exams were cancelled, but fortunately I had good mocks to fall back on.
“I was playing at Farnham Golf Club the first day golf was allowed back and birdied the first hole and shot two-under which was a good start.”
Woad also made a splash on Twitter with regular posts of her attempting a flop shot in her back garden. Her exploits were picked up by the LET, Sky and The R&A and showcased skills that Rose himself (pictured above) would be proud of.
“If I need to hit a flop shot then I should be ok,” joked Woad who last year became the youngest ever winner of the Surrey Ladies’ County Championship.
“I started hitting over a fence, then progressed to hit over a netball stand into a bowl. There’s no grass left in that bit of the garden now!”
Good luck to Lottie, Mimi and Louise for this event with more exciting golf to follow in the course of the Rose Ladies Series.
Check out England Golf’s social media platforms and website for news of Thursday’s tournament.
After the Brokenhurst Manor event, the series moves to the following venues:
June 25: Moor Park Golf Club
July 2: Buckinghamshire Golf Club
July 9: Royal St George’s Golf Club
July 16: JCB Golf and Country Club
July 23: Bearwood Lakes
July 30: The Shire, London
August 6: The Berkshire Golf Club
August 7: Wentworth Golf Club (West Course)
Main Photograph credit: Leaderboard