Date: February 15, 2012

Hillier and Lennon prepare for NZ Open

Western Australia&aposs Whitney Hillier, Victoria&aposs Grace Lennon and Queensland&aposs Emily McLennan are among the amateurs to compete in Friday&aposs ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open hosted by Christchurch at Pegasus Golf and Sports Club. Half of last year s top-10 finishers from the Ladies European Tour are returning, including champion Kristie Smith (AUS), runner-up Giulia Sergas (Italy) and Sweden s Linda Wessberg (seventh). Twenty-nine year old Welshwoman Becky Brewerton, a four time winner on the LET, is returning after a strong 2011 season including victory in the Tenerife Matchplay as well as runner-up at the Turkish Open. England s Felicity Johnson will stake her claim on the back of an excellent 2011 season where she won the French Open among six top-20 finishes, while Norway s striking Marianne Skarpnord, a two-time LET winner, is back fit and healthy after injury forced her out last year. Wessberg enjoyed her time at Pegasus last year, one of five top-10 finishes on the LET while compatriot Pernilla Lindberg enjoyed five top-seven finishes in a row with her best a runner-up at the Suzhou Taihu Open. Sergas impressed many last year. The 33-year-old had her chances to take out the title, but eventually had to be content with a share of second place. The former European amateur champion is still chasing her breakthrough victory on the LET and with a liking for the Pegasus course, it may come in 2012. Compatriot Veronica Zorzi, a three-time LET winner, makes her first appearance here while Scotland s Vikki Laing, a four time former amateur champion and US college success, should be a factor especially in the famed winds blow. While there are strong representation from Australia and the LPGA, the winner, for the third time in a row, may come from the co-sanction partners, the Ladies European Tour. The pro-am is on Thursday with the 54-hole contest starting on Friday.