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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Defending Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Open champion Beth Allen would 'love to keep the trophy' 

Competing on the professional golf circuit against elite level players may rank as a lesser challenge Beth Allen has had to overcome in her life, especially when considering she returned to competition just two months after donating a kidney to her ailing brother six years ago.

The March 2011 transplant was successful, Allen's gesture giving her brother a new lease of life and proved no physical impediment to her own career. She clinched the inaugural Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Open 12 months ago, coming home in an impressive 21-under par at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club. Allen returns to defend her title in Abu Dhabi when the action gets underway on Wednesday.

When asked how she coped with her professional career after the kidney transplant, Allen said: “I just have to drink tons of water and be hydrated as much as possible.

“In the beginning, right after the operation, it took me over a year to get my full strength back."

With the mercury expected to reach 34°C in the capital today, Allen said she will have to take on extra fluids to stave off dehydration.

“Now it is fine but I have to make sure that I’m always hydrated especially in this Abu Dhabi weather. I get dehydrated quicker than most," she said at a news conference.

“Usually I try to have four litres of water but in this heat I will have to have more. The caddie gets tired carrying it, though. Otherwise, I can hit the gym and do all the maintenance work and no medication at all.”

Allen enjoyed an excellent 2016 which culminated in her winning the Ladies European Tour’s (LET) Order of Merit but the American has struggled to replicate that form this year.

She took her most recent ninth-place finish at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France three weeks ago as a positive for her title defence in Abu Dhabi.

“I think my game is returning with the top 10 finish in France,” she said. “My game is there, it’s just that I need to be confident and play the way that I was last year.

“I feel, in golf, everything is so close. Like I said, it is just a confidence thing and I’m feeling better with that top 10 finish a few weeks ago.”

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At 35, Allen believes she can still get better.

“I don’t see why I can’t keep getting better because of my age,” she added. “I hit it as far as most and usually that’s the kind of thing that goes with age.

“I can compete with anyone. I’m happy and my personal life is great and it’s all good.”

Allen is confident of repeating her win of 12 months ago and said the conditions were similar to last year.

“Usually the course is in great condition and I’m sure that the scores will be low,” she said. “But most of all, I’d love to keep the trophy, so I will do my best.”

Joining Allen at the launch ceremony at the Saadiyat Beach club house was Catriona Matthew, the 2009 Women’s British Open winner and a former LET Player of the Year who will captain Team Europe at the 2019 Solheim Cup.

“Actually I first came to Abu Dhabi probably seven or eight years ago and I have great memories of it,” she said as she lined up for the four-day event that has drawn 126 players with prize money of US$550,000 (just over Dh2 million).

“I came back a couple of times since to train in the winter for the last few years. It’s great to be here and playing in the tournament.”

Tickets are still available for the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open. For more information and to book tickets, visit www.fbmladiesopen.com/tickets