Englishwoman also looks good to seal Order of Merit title in 2017
Georgia Hall targets Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Open after second-place finish in 2016
Beth Allen may have won the inaugural edition of the Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Open last year. But one of her rivals is determined to go one up on the American when it gets underway at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Georgia Hall placed second after finishing three strokes behind Allen 12 months ago, and even though that result remains her best finish on the Ladies European Tour (LET), she wants nothing less than victory this time.
“This tournament brings back a lot of good memories for me, having my best result here last year,” Hall said on Tuesday.
“Abu Dhabi was the first place where I played golf abroad - as a 12-year-old - so it’s a special place. The Gary Player design [of the course] is amazing and suits my game. I’m always happy to come back here.”
The Englishwoman has arrived in the capital on the back of an excellent year. Still only 21, Hall is third on the LET Order of Merit list after six top-10 finishes at eight tournaments. She has a great shot at the title when the year-long race concludes in Dubai in just over a month.
Cheyenne Woods is another promising player to have made her way to Saadiyat on Tuesday.
Woods, the niece of former men's world No 1 Tiger Woods, headed for the course after landing in the city to get a feel of the fairway and greens.
“I really enjoyed the course,” Woods, 27, said after practice. “It was a really fun course to play. However, the one thing to watch out for is how tricky large the greens are.
“It’s a bit difficult from that perspective. But I’m looking forward for a good four days in Abu Dhabi.”
Catriona Matthew, a more established name in the women's game, has opted to play at the FMBL Open this year, only a month and a few days after being appointed Europe's captain for the 2019 Solheim Cup.
Matthew was upbeat on her first appearance in a competition in Abu Dhabi, with the Scotswoman acknowledging that getting the captaincy was a personal achievement.
“It’s been a great year for me," Matthew, 48, said. "I’m really looking forward to topping off this great year in Abu Dhabi.
“The course here is playing well, but it is a quite tight run in on the fairways and there is plenty of tricky holes to contend with. However, there are also lot of opportunities to make birdies,” she added.
Matthew, who served as a vice-captain to Annika Sorenstam at the 2017 Solheim Cup - which the United States won - is third on the all-time points list for the competition, behind Laura Davies (25) and Sorenstam (24).
With such a rich blend of youth and experience in action over the next four days, it will be fascinating to see who emerges winner from the 126-strong field, with a total prize purse of US$550,000 (around Dh2 million) on offer.