Ochoa under threat at Royal Lytham
BY Bruce Young | Ladies European Tour | 2009 Ricoh Womens British Open | Preview | 29 Jul 2009
The Ricoh Women’s British Open is played this week at the Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club near Blackpool in Lancashire, England, the fourth occasion the event has been played at the 112 year old layout. Royal Lytham & St Annes also played host to ten Open Championships, the last in 2001 when the former world number one, David Duval, won his first and only major championship to date.
In the three previous occasions in which the event has been staged at Royal Lytham, Sherri Steinhauer has won two and Annika Sorenstam has one. Neither is in this week’s field, favouritism going to the world number one, Lorena Ochoa, although her recent form has hardly been convincing.
The defending champion is Ji Yai Shin who plays this golf course for the first time this year. Shin won by three last year over Yani Tseng giving Shin the first of three LPGA Tour titles in 2008 without LPGA Tour membership. It is hard to imagine Shin not being somewhere in the mix on Sunday. Shin is having a great season, currently second on the LPGA Tour money list and winning twice in her official rookie season
Ochoa finished 4th when she played this venue in 2006 but her form of late seems a mystery. The prolific winner of titles has won two titles this season but they were earlier in the year and her most recent tournaments have been disappointing by her standard. She won this event when it was held at St Andrews in 2007 and her chances can’t be discounted.
Sophie Gustafson went close last week in France before losing a playoff to Ai Miyazato. Gustafson finished joint runner up at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2006 and has been a winner and two times a runner up in this event generally. It would seem her chances are very good this week.
Cristie Kerr finished runner up in this event in 2006 and is the leading player on this year’s money list. She has won only one event this season but it is Kerr’s consistency that has her deserving serious consideration this week.
Karrie Webb, a three time winner, is probably Australia’s best chance although Lindsey Wright is developing a reputation as a big event player having finished 4th and runner up in two of the three majors this season.
Webb had a pleasing return to form last week when 5th at the Evian Masters after three months of performances below her best. She is more than capable of winning again at this level.
Wright is having by far her best season and although yet to win on the LPGA Tour she could well contend and a win is not beyond her.
Katherine Hull, Anna Rawson and Sarah Kemp are also in the field as are Australian players from the Ladies European Tour, Nikki Garrett, Karen Lunn and Rebecca Flood.