DUBAI: China’s world number four Shanshan Feng will look to extend her domination in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, the season-ending championship of the Ladies European Tour, when she seeks a fourth title in last five years.
Feng is the highest ranked player in the field, which also boasts of two-time major champion Suzann Pettersen of Norway and England’s Charley Hull, a winner on the LPGA Tour a fortnight ago.
However, the thrill of a season-ending championship will be slightly diminished this year, with both Order of Merit and Rookie of the Year awards already decided.
American Beth Allen, who won back-to-back titles in France and Abu Dhabi, leads the Order of Merit with earnings of 311,391 euros and her lead at the top is insurmountable in the half million euro tournament that offers a winning cheque of 75,000 euros.
India’s 18-year-old Aditi Ashok, who is having a sensational season, is placed second in the Order of Merit, having won her last two tournaments – the Indian Open and the Qatar Open. Her earnings of 180,415 euros cannot be matched by second-placed Spain’s Nuria Itturios even if she wins on Saturday.
Both Allen and Aditi were expected to reach Dubai late on Tuesday for the tournament starting Wednesday, as they participated in the final stage of the LPGA Tour Qualifying School in Florida that finished on Sunday.
Allen finished inside the top-20 and secured a category 12 card for next year, while Ashok was tied 23rd and will have a category 17 status.
Feng has turned around her game after a poor start to the season. She won the bronze medal in the Rio Olympic Games, and thereafter, she hasn’t finished outside the top-10 in her last seven starts.
And Feng said she was keeping her goals modest, as she does at every tournament.
“Top-five. It’s like I said earlier, I never set a goal that will really put me under a lot of pressure. Going for a top-five is something I feel quite comfortable doing it, so I think that’s maybe my goal right now,” said the trailblazing 27-year-old Chinese, who won the tournament last year by a whopping 12 shots after shooting 21-under par.
The tournament also features Cheyenne Woods, niece of 14-time major champion Tiger Woods, who made his comeback to tournament golf after nearly 16 months of injury lay-off.
Cheyenne is now an LPGA Tour regular, having secured her card by finishing 96th in the Money List this year.