Two time Isle of Man Ladies Champion Ana Dawson will make a little piece of history on Thursday as she makes her professional debut at the Kenya Open, becoming the first Isle of Man player to compete on the Ladies European Tour (LET). The event, held at the Vipigno Ridge resort, just outside Mombasa, carries an overall purse of €350 000, with the winner taking home €45 000, as well as the first trophy of the LET season. Ana will tee it up alongside 95 other hopefuls as she aims to plant the Manx flag firmly on the leaderboard and make a lightning start to her rookie season on the Tour.
Ana earned her place in the field via an excellent finish to her 2022 season; this included both national and international amateur victories in the prestigious Faldo Series, and culminated in a confident, assured performance across two stages of Qualifying School at La Manga at the end of the year. She played some outstanding golf across a gruelling final two weeks of hard competition in December, with a gutsy finish of two sub-70 rounds on the last two days ensuring that she achieved full Tour status at the first time of asking and made the decision to turn professional the easiest of choices.
The climate in Kenya clearly has little in common with Peel or Castletown in January. To ensure she is ready for the change of climate, Ana has been preparing for the start of the season with a 10 day training camp in Portugal. This was primarily at the Benamor resort in the Algarve region, just outside Faro, where the course generously offered to host her for 10 days, providing access to the course, range, and short-game facilities, as well as the local gym.
As well ensuring she has her A game ready for Kenya, and is fit and ready to play 72 holes week in-week out, there are other aspects of the transition onto the Tour that take some getting used to. These include completing all of the Tour induction paperwork, understanding the responsibilities around Tour membership, and getting used to the rules around everything from Pro-am participation to sponsorship regulations.
“I’m very grateful to everyone on the island – both companies and individuals – who have helped me get onto that first tee and I’m hugely thankful for the support. The last month has been pretty hectic but right now I’m just excited to just go play golf.” – Ana Dawson
The Ladies European Tour tagline for the 2023 season is #RaiseOurGame. With a full season of events on her calendar across multiple continents, Ana will be looking to do just that. And to put the Isle of Man very much on the golfing map.