Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Catriona Matthew makes it to Alicante in
time after all to team up with Krystle
All 18 teams of two will be present to represent their countries when the third Comunitat Valenciana European Nations Cup begins at 8.45am on Thursday at La Sella Resort in Dénia, Alicante, Spain.
With the Icelandic volcano having caused chaos with air travel in Europe over the past week, it was feared that some teams wouldn’t be able to make it to the tournament, however many players spent three days travelling across the continent in a desperate attempt to make it to the tee by Thursday.
Austrian Stefanie Michl was scheduled to arrive at 10.25pm tonight (Wednesday), less than 12 hours before her 9.09am tee time. She has flown from the United States to Frankfurt and from there to Madrid.
North Berwick’s Catriona Matthew, pictured above, the Ricoh Women’s Open champion, arrived on site at around 2pm today with her caddie-husband Graeme, in plenty of time to join her playing partner Krystle Caithness on the tee at 10.09am on Thursday.
Speaking from Alicante, Matthew said: “We actually flew from Newcastle to Alicante, which was pretty amazing. Now we’re looking forward to getting some sun.
“Suddenly they opened up the whole of Britain at about five or six last night. We held out because I wasn’t going to do that drive. Our car is only a little runaround when we’re at home in Scotland so we didn’t think it could take that journey. It is 30 driving hours from Scotland to get here. We nearly went with Karrie Webb’s caddie Mikey but it took him 60 hours altogether going on the Eurostar. We looked at that but they were fully booked.”
The Ladies European Tour fixture, which was successfully launched in 2008, has attracted a world class field of 18 teams comprising 16 countries from Europe, whilst Australia and the United States received the two sponsor invitations.
Fortunately for Australian Karrie Webb, travelling from the United States with the American duo of Meg Mallon and Beth Daniel, an early arrival last Saturday saw them avoid the flight chaos. Making the most of the extra days in Spain, they enjoyed a football match between Real Madrid and Valencia at the Bernabeu Stadium.
A picture of the tournament mascot ‘Birdy’, on which the players painted their national flags.
Australian Karen Lunn’s journey, proved to be the longest and most enduring. She commenced her trip with a Coolangatta to Sydney flight last Thursday.
She reported: “I arrived in Abu Dhabi en route to London and was stuck there for two nights. Realising it was unlikely I would get to London and then Spain in time (for the tournament) I decided to buy a new ticket to Alicante via Doha and Madrid.
"Ninety hours door to door, five flights and five days later I finally made it. It was an expensive exercise but I wouldn’t have missed this event for anything. Karrie and I had a good practice day on Tuesday and are both playing well so should be a good week.”
Of the Britons, Melissa Reid and Karen Stupples drove from England, Breanne Loucks drove from Wales and Krystle Caithness drove with her caddie from Scotland.
Reid explained her journey: “I drove from Loughborough, which was 1400 miles away and took 22 hours. It was punishment and got a bit tedious for the last six hours. We drove straight through. We left Loughborough at 2am on Monday and arrived around midnight so it was less than 24 hours. We took the ferry from Dover.
"We were pretty tired yesterday (Tuesday). My neck and back stiffened up. I have problems with my back anyway but a bit of practising and gym and it sorted itself out. A little bit of practise and I’m back to my normal self.
“I’m playing the course for the first time in the pro am and it looks nice. I think when they cut the greens and they run a bit faster they will be running a bit better. It’s in pretty good condition and the fairways are nice.”
Only one team, Germany, has seen a change. Bettina Hauert will be joined by the recent Lalla Meryem Cup winner Anja Monke, who has replaced Sandra Gal.
“I am extremely happy that Anja drove up here from Hannover today,” said Hauert, who had driven for 17 hours from Cologne, starting on Sunday. “I think Sandra made a great decision to give Anja the chance to play. It’s not easy to step back and let someone else take your spot; that’s really fair play and shows great character. Sandra wanted to play really badly but she just couldn’t find another flight from the United States to Europe. Both Sandra and Anja are great players so either way I think Germany has a strong team.”
Monke added: “I will never complain about waiting for a plane again after that drive.”
Finland’s Jenni Kuosa drove the furthest: 3,800 kilometres from Helsinki and arrived on Tuesday evening to partner Ursula Wikstrom, who drove from Switzerland, along with Gwladys Nocera and Jade Schaeffer, from France.
Russian Maria Verchenova took a train from Moscow to Vienna en route to the event to join playing partner, Anastasia Kostina, who took a convoluted route from Miami in Florida, to Valencia in Spain. The Irish team of Hazel Kavanagh and Rebecca Coakley took a three day trip from Dublin via the Holyhead ferry.
The Dutch team of Christel Boeljon and Marjet van der Graaff will defend the title they won in 2009 when they defeated Australia (Nikki Garrett & Joanne Mills), France (Gwladys Nocera & Anne-Lise Caudal) and Italy (Veronica Zorzi & Giulia Sergas) into second place.
The event format will see four rounds played as follows:
Thursday: Four-ball, better-ball – each player plays her own ball and the best score of the two is recorded for each hole.
Friday: “Valencian Cup” format where players tee off then switch and play their partner’s ball for the next shot (on par 4s) and for the next 2 shots (on par 5s) before selecting the best ball and completing the hole in alternate shot (foursome) format. On par 3s the best tee shot is selected before completing the hole with alternate shots.
Saturday : Four-ball, better-ball.
Sunday: Valencian Cup format
The winning team will share €84,000.