Golf: Sophie Walker expecting toughest campaign to date
SOPHIE Walker is anticipating the most competitive Ladies European Tour season yet when she begins her campaign in Queensland tomorrow.
The Humberston professional has been Down Under since the New Year, preparing to tee-off at the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters.
And all the hard work on her putting and new swing will be put to the test at the Royal Pines course from 11.30am (Australian time) tomorrow.
Walker is part of a field of 138 competitors from 21 different countries who will launch their seasons at the 54-hole strokeplay tournament.
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And the Forest Pines golfer is prepared for an almighty battle against many of the world's top players – including 13 of last year's LET winners.
"The talent pool is getting bigger and bigger, and women's golf is growing massively throughout the world," Walker told the Telegraph.
"At the moment I still know the people that are coming through, but I suppose over the next few years I won't.
"I can remember playing against Carlota Ciganda (2012 Order of Merit winner) when she was only 13.
"So the ones that come through at the moment you're not surprised at, but maybe in the next few years that will all change.
"For someone like Carlota to come in and win the money list and rookie of the year is quite spectacular really."
Walker finished 79th on the Order of Merit last year, with earnings of more than 28,000 euros from her 16 events.
She insists that her improved ranking – and access to more tournaments across the globe – will help her improve on that result this time around.
"The important thing is just to get yourself in the mix with these talented people," she added. "If you play with them more in tournaments then you feed off them.
"You can see it on the Tour – the people who are playing with the better golfers and getting themselves in that position, they grow Felicity Johnson, for instance, has got herself in that next step up and in the top groups, playing with people like Laura Davies and Carlota, and you improve that way."
On her chances of achieving her maiden Tour victory during 2013, Walker added: "I believe that I'm getting better as a golfer.
"I honestly feel that if I have a chance to win this season I will take that chance – I don't think that will be a problem for me.
"It's just about getting into those positions to win and being in the hunt going into the final round, which I haven't really done.
"The only time that has happened was in Scotland in 2010 and I came second, so I wasn't too far away."