Rose Ladies Series to return – in bigger and better format
So much for the Rose Ladies Series being an emergency one-off. Not only is it returning to the calendar in 2021, but doing so in a bigger and better format.
Set up by Justin Rose, England’s Olympic champion, and his wife Kate last year to fill the blank summer caused by Covid-19, the pair have once again stepped up to the mark to complete the gaps in the Ladies European Tour schedule.
Running in three blocks from the end of April until the start of September, there are 11 one-day events – three more than in 2020 – with increased prize money.
The first 10 of the 18-hole shootouts will see the winner walk away with £10,000 – double the amount of 2020 – while the final will feature a £20,000 first prize. The quality of courses will also elevate the mini-circuit with links classics such as Hillside and Royal Birkdale playing hosts.
The latter, of course, was where Rose chipped in the 18th as a 17-year-old amateur to come fourth in the 1998 Open Championship.
It is remarkable that a germ of an idea which began as a single 18-hole roll-up merely to give somewhere for the UK’s stricken female professionals to play, has grown into a series attracting blue-chip sponsors in an area of British sport where none was supposed to exist.
That says everything about Rose, the former world No 1, breaking the mould of the modern male pro in putting his name, fame and indeed his money behind an initiative to assist his female counterparts.
American Golf and Computacenter return, while the R&A and BMW have also signed up as backers. Excel, the management company which oversees Rose’s career as well as that of Tiger Woods, will act as promoters, with Rose quick to credit the efforts of Paul McDonnell, his long-time handler, and Molly Bullard, the tournament director.
“It’s great that we’ve been able to put this all together and as ever there’s always so many to thank,” Rose told Telegraph Sport. “These obviously include the female players themselves, as they were the ones which made the series such a hit.
“When you have pros with the profile of Charley [Hull, the series winner] and Georgia [Hall] competing, it clearly ramps up the status and, thus, interest. You know, after last year’s series, Kate and I were asked if it would be revived in 2021, but our view was that it would be brilliant if it didn’t have to be and that there would be ample opportunity anyway for these players.
“Yet while the Ladies European Tour schedule is excellent and bodes so well for the future there are still gaps and that is where we come in. So the first quartet [West Lancs on Apr 29, Woburn on May 6, Brockenhurst Manor on May 13 and The Berkshire on May 21] will give the women the chance to hone their gamester when the LET begins in earnest.
“And then there will be the break, until the next four [Hillside on Aug 2, Birkdale on Aug 3, JCB GCC on Aug 5 and Scotscraig on Aug 7] leads them into two big weeks at the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open and the AIG Women’s Open. And then the concluding three [Northants on Sept 23, the Buckinghamshire on Sept 23 and Bearwood Lakes on Sept 25] will funnel into the LET’s final stretch.
“The increase in prize money will concentrate the minds still further and I’ve always said you can’t beat the experience of having a card in your hand. As much as my schedule allows, I’ll be in attendance, especially as these courses are very close to my heart. There is Birkdale, my home course of North Hants and Scotscraig, our first event in Scotland, where I tried to qualify for the Open as a 14-year-old. It’s great for all the clubs and their memberships to give up their courses for a day, particularly after the lockdown closures.”
For her part – and her role should not be underestimated as a former international gymnast with a desire to give the female game the exposure it deserves – Kate Rose is already counting down the days. “In golf terms, the series was one of the great positives of the British summer in 2020,” she said. “We can’t wait.”
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