Stars of the future set to shine

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Golfing stars of the future will return to Stoke-by-Nayland next week to contest the WPGA International Challenge.

The three-day event is preceded by a Pro-Am on Wednesday, which will feature actress and Magic FM radio host Denise Van Outen, and BBC’s Stewart White among others.

Hannah Ralph won the inaugural tournament at Stoke-by-Nayland Golf Club last year, and now plays on the Ladies European Tour (LET), and another strong field will be competing for the €30,000 prize money on the Gainsborough course.

It will be an intense affair as it is the final event of the season and will decide which five players secure a card for the 2015 LET season.

Also aiming to make an impression will be the 15 PGA professionals who have earned their place in the field via the WPGA One-Day Series and the remaining places were secured via a qualifying Order of Merit.

There are some LET veterans among the PGA entrants including Alison Nicholas, a former Solheim Cup captain and winner of both the GB and US Opens.

The 54-hole event is part of the Ladies European Tour Access Series (LETAS) and was launched last year by The PGA to increase support of the women’s game. The Access Series is primarily a proving ground for new talent.

Proof of the vitality of LETAS, and how it provides experience for playing at the top is last year’s LETAS Order of Merit winner Mireia Prat.

The Spanish ace, who turns 25 next month, won twice on LETAS last year and is currently ranked 77th on the LET.

Prat, who turned pro in 2012, said: “I had a good year on LET Access series as I won two tournaments and came fourth at Stoke by Nayland, which was a very challenging course.

“Access Series is a good experience because you play often and very good courses. They are very challenging and there’s good competition between the players.”

Next week’s Challenge is the only LETAS event being staged in the UK in 2014 and there will be more than 100 competitors.

The Pro-Am on Wednesday, on the Gainsborough course, has a shotgun start at 11am.

The WPGA event starts on Thursday, with first competitors due to go out at 7.30am.

Spectators are welcome to come and watch both the ProAm and three-day event, and there is no entry charge.

n There are a limited number of places left in the Pro-Am tournament on Wednesday which is followed by a prize-giving gala dinner.

Anyone interested in entering as a team of three or individually should contact Hannah Moul at Stoke by Nayland on 01206 265827 or email hannah.moul@stokebynayland.com for more details.