The Ricoh Womens British Open hits Turnberry on the Ayrshire coast this week for the fourth leg of this year’s five Majors, with Mo Martin defending.
The Ricoh Womens British Open has a slightly later date in the schedule this year, returning to Turnberry’s Ailsa Course for the first time since 2002, since when Donald Trump has acquired the spectacular Ayrshire Resort.
The event has grown considerably in stature over the last couple of decades, becoming an official LPGA event in 1994, then a Major from 2001 onwards.
Last time round at Turnberry, Karrie Webb won the event for the third time, but for the first time as a Major. Last year at Royal Birkdale, it was American, Mo Martin, who delivered a killer blow on the final hole to clinch the title by one from Suzann Pettersen and Shanshan Feng.
Not renowned for her long hitting, Martin struck a superb 3-wood on the 72nd hole that hit the pin and stopped six feet away, from where she converted for a timely eagle that would ultimately win the day.
This year’s return to Turnberry is particularly significant, for it is the last time that many of the Ailsa’s holes will be played as we have always known them in its four exciting Open Championships to date won by Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Nick Price and Stewart Cink.
As soon as the Ricoh Women’s British Open is over, work will start in earnest on significant changes to many holes, including the famous stretch around the turn by the lighthouse, which will look very different when The Open next visits.
Martin has little on the CV this year to suggest a repeat victory is on the cards, but the same held true last year before she landed her one and only LPGA Tour title to date in style.
Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis and Lydia Ko currently lead the way on the LPGA Money List – Park with three victories so far this year, Ko two and Lewis yet to win, which speaks volumes for her consistency.
Lewis won the title two years ago at St Andrews, and has finished top 12 the last four years, so clearly has what it takes to compete on a links course.
Among the Ladies’ European Tour contingent eyeing up victory will be Australia’s Rebecca Artis who surged to victory in last week’s Aberdeen Asset Scottish Open just up the road at Dundonald, thanks to an excellent closing 66 in testing conditions.
A string of solid performances has left her 3rd on the LET Money List behind Gwladys Nocera and Melissa Reid, who won the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open for the second time back in May and will be eager to improve on her previous best of 16th in the 2007 Ricoh as an amateur.
Ailsa Course, Trump Turnberry Resort, Ayrshire
Date: July 30 to August 2
Course stats: par 72, 6,410 yards
Purse: $3,000,000 Winner: $450,000
Defending Champion: Mo Martin (-1, Royal Birkdale)
Thursday 30 – BBC2 1-5.15pm
Friday 31 – BBC2 1-5.15pm
Saturday 1 – BBC2 2-6pm
Sunday 2 – BBC2 2-6pm
Stacy Lewis – the fact that Lewis is 2nd on the LPGA Money List this year without a victory suggests to us that she is a win waiting to happen.
Lydia Ko – The New Zealander has twice finished low amateur at the Ricoh and enjoyed a solid links warm-up last week with 4th place at Dundonald.
Suzann Pettersen – a missed cut at the US Women’s Open aside, the Norwegian is in great form, with an LPGA victory in June and 2nd place last week in Scotland. She will be desperate to go one better than last year’s runner-up finish at Royal Birkdale to finally land the Ricoh.
10th. A 407-yard par four that hugs the coastline, with both central fairway bunkers and the famous ‘doughnut’ bunker a little way short of the green to be safely negotiated.