Lewis well placed to defend British Open
BY Bruce Young | Ladies European Tour | 2014 Ricoh Womens British Open | Preview | 08 Jul 2014
The Ricoh Women’s British Open Championship begins this Thursday at the famed Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport in Lancashire, England where the world number one Stacy Lewis begins the event as the favourite to successfully defend the title she won at St Andrews last year.
The Championship, which has been a major on the LPGA Tour since 1994 although a major since 2001 when the Du Maurier Classic in Canada was lost due to tobacco sponsorship issues.
The event was first played in 1976 when won by English Amateur Jenny Lee Smith and since then the game’s greatest players of the modern era including Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, Karrie Webb, Jiyai Shin and Yani Tseng have been successful.
Royal Birkdale plays host to the event for the fifth occasion this year, the Championship now regularly played on some of the great links layouts of Great Britain. The last occasion this venue was used was in 2010 when Yani Tseng won the first of her two Women’s British Open titles.
Two players have won the title on three occasions namely Australian Karrie Webb and American Sheri Steinhauer with Webb lining up this week as chance at least of taking her title collection to four and her major championship account to eight.
Lewis has been the dominant player on the LPGA Tour over the past twelve months and took over as the world number one earlier this year from Inbee Park and has extended her lead at the top of the Rolex ranking in that time.
At her last start Lewis was a very impressive runner-up at the US Women’s Open and her form this year has been so consistently good it is hard to imagine she will not be amongst the contenders late on Sunday.
Michelle Wie shapes as a genuine challenger for not only this title but that of the world number one in the not too distant future. Her emphatic win at Pinehurst highlighted the class game she has always possessed but for a range of reasons has not always displayed. He record in this event has not been good but she is a very much different and more accomplished golfer now and she can be expected to continue her much anticipated rise.
Lydia Ko might only be 17 but she has continues to play at a level well beyond her years. Ko will win major championships in the years ahead and her recent form suggests if it was to happen this week then no-one should be surprised. She recovered from a slow start to finish a respectable 15th at the US Women’s Open and then at her last stat in Arkansas she finished runner-up.
So Yeon Ryu gives the impression that a win to match her US Open success is not far away. She has been inside the top ten in four of her last five starts this season and has shown in the past a capacity to play links golf well.
Suzanne Pettersen has been a little disappointing this season but there have been injury issues. If she can recover the form she is capable of then a British Open title is certainly not beyond her.
This event has been good to Australians over the years although Karrie Webb has dominated in that regard. Webb has won three Women’s British Open titles, the last of those coming in 2002, although she also finished runner-up in 2009.
Karen Lunn and Corinne Dibnah are also Australians to win the event albeit in pre LPGA days and Michelle Ellis and Katherine Hull have finished runner-up, Kirk second to Tseng at this venue in 2010.
Webb, Kirk, Sarah Jane Smith, Nikki Campbell and Minjee Lee along with qualifiers Stephanie Na, Stacy Keating, Su Hyun Oh and Bree Arthur in this week’s field.