Stacy Lewis will look to defend her title at the 2014 Ricoh Women's British Open held at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Lowdown:
One week before the men attempt to calm the winds at Hoylake, Liverpool hosts the best women golfers in the world at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club for the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

World Number One Stacy Lewis is looking to defend her British Open title, after defeating Inbee Park‘s quest for a grand slam in 2013. Lewis’ play so far this year is deserving of the number one ranking, as she has finished in the top-10 in 13 events already in 2014, including placing third at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and second at the US Women’s Open.

Lewis will be challenged by an incredibly deep field of veterans and new stars, which should make this a very exciting tournament. Michelle Wie, coming off her first major championship, will be looking for a second and will line up as a favourite alongside Lewis. Veterans Inbee Park of South Korea and Norway’s Suzann Pettersen will be looking to add to their major championship trophy case.

What really will make this tournament exciting, however, is the recent infusion of young talent into the top of the women’s game. 17-year-old Lydia Ko of New Zealand, 19-year-old American Lexi Thompson and England’s 18-year-old Charley Hull have all been near the top of the leader boards at this year’s majors, including Thompson’s victory at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. These young stars are exciting to watch and have quickly made their impact on the women’s tour.

Scotland’s Catriona Matthew, ranked 15th in the Rolex Rankings, would love to win her second career major close to home. Northern Ireland’s 20-year-old Stephanie Meadow will look to continue a stellar start to her professional career, after finishing third in both the US Open and the Ladies European Masters.

Royal Birkdale has been often featured in the Open Championship circuit, as well as the Ricoh Women’s British Open rotation. It hosted the women’s championship three times sine the turn of the century: in 2000 won by Sweden’s Sophie Gustafson, in 2005 won by South Korea’s Jeong Jang and in 2010 won by Taiwan’s Yani Tseng.

The wide-open course can play very windy, and is prone to bad weather. The conditions certainly could open it up to any competitor, which should make this weekend even more unpredictable.

Venue: Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport
Date: Jul 10-13
Course stats: par 72, 6,458 yards
Purse: $3,000,000 Winner: $450,000
Defending Champion: Stacy Lewis (-8)

TV Coverage:

Thursday 10 – BBC2 1-5pm
Friday 11 – BBC2 1-5pm
Saturday 12 – BBC2 1-5pm
Sunday 13 – BBC2 1-5pm

Player Watch:
Stacy Lewis – Last year’s winner and top women golfer in the world will be looking to continue her success.

Michelle Wie – Coming off her first major victory, Wie and Lewis are developing an exciting rivalry.

Paula Creamer – She seems to believe that she plays her best on links courses and has placed in the top ten in the Women’s British Open four times.

Key hole: 1st. A 430 yard par four features a dogleg and oftentimes plenty of wind coming from the left, with out of bounds wide right. A good start here may be tough in poor conditions.