Hannah Moul will look to make home advantage count as she tees off in the inaugural WPGA International Challenge at Stoke-by-Nayland today.
The younger sister of European Challenge Tour player Jamie Moul is playing as a guest amateur at her home club in the three-day Ladies European Tour Access Series (LETAS) event — the second tier of women’s golf.
The field of 120 players, including Felixstowe-raised former Ladies’ British Open Amateur champion Julie Otto and highly-regarded Alison Nicholas MBE, will compete over 54 holes on the Gainsborough Course for a share of the €25,000 prize money.
But 25-year-old Moul will have the support of the Essex-affiliated club’s members behind her as she looks to re-discover the form which took her to the cusp of an England spot before, disillusioned, she gave up the game four years ago.
“It will be brilliant and I cannot wait to get out there,” said the two handicapper, who left school to play golf full-time as a 16-year-old.
“I’ve been practising with a few friends and I have played this course many times, so I should know my way around.”
The Colchester resident, who owns golfing holiday company Go Golf Holidays, has taken a year out to play as a full-time amateur after giving in to European Tour professional boyfriend Matthew Southgate.
Moul, who tees off from the 10th hole at 8.15am today, said: “We first met three-and-a-half years ago and ever since the first time he saw me play he has been saying it is ridiculous I do not play full-time and this year I just thought I would give it a go.”
Despite some encouraging national and regional results since returning competitively in May, including winning back her Essex Ladies place, she admits her future in the sport hangs on her display over the next few days.
“I will see how it goes this week, but I would love to play one more year as a full-time amateur next year,” she said. “It is just the expense.”
With Southgate caddying for her today after she has been used to carrying his bags, Moul is targeting making Saturday’s cut of the top 30 and ties.
“If I can get up there I will be really chuffed, to play on Saturday is the first goal but it is mainly to enjoy it and try to relax and not put too much pressure on myself,” she said.
In her first event back, Moul made the cut on the England Ladies Order of Merit stroke play event in Birmingham in May before narrowly losing 3&2 in the final of the Essex Ladies Championship after five days of play in Orsett.
The WPGA International Challenge is the only LETAS event being staged in the UK this year and Susanna Rendall, managing director of the family-owned Stoke-by-Nayland Hotel, Golf and Spa is delighted to be hosting it, having previously staged the men’s equivalent on the European Challenge Tour.
“We are really excited to be hosting the WPGA International Challenge and look forward to playing our part in helping to promote women’s international golf,” she said.
n Entry for spectators is free of charge and a number of free golf clinics will also be running throughout the tournament.
For more information, contact the pro shop on 01206 265812.