A rejuvenated Karrie Webb will look to lead the Australian challenge at the Ricoh Women’s British Open this week, her confidence restored after a second place finish at last week’s Ladies Scottish Open.
While at the time Webb struggled to come to terms with not being able to seal victory having held a two shot lead with 3 holes left to play last week, the Queenslander comes to Kingsbarns this week knowing she has turned a corner after having struggled for much of 2017.
The 42-year-old clearly relishes the challenge of links golf and has a reputation for being one of the best all weather players in the women’s game. Her record in the Women’s British Open speaks for itself having won the title three times, and despite it being 22 years since her first win in 1995 and 15 years since her last victory at Turnberry in 2002, she comes to Kingsbarns Links with a realistic chance of a fourth title and an eighth major championship.
Webb’s second place finish last week has moved her back into the top 70 on the Rolex Women’s world rankings, and for the first time since the Rolex Rankings began in 2006 there are 5 Australian women in the top 82, a testament to the form our women have shown the past 12 months on the LPGA Tour.
Webb is one of seven Australians who will tee it this week at the stunning Kingsbarns Links just north of the town of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland.
For so long Australia’s leading female golfer, the LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer has been overshadowed in recent years by the emergence of West Australian star Minjee Lee, who at the age of 21 already has three LPGA titles to her credit. Lee is so far winless in 2017 but has been there or thereabouts with seven top 10 finishes so far this season.
Lee played well last week herself finishing in a tie for 8th place, and it only seems a matter of time before the talented youngster at the very least seriously contends for her maiden major championship.
Lee will play in her fourth Women’s British Open this week, her best performance so far was an impressive 9th place at Turnberry in 2015 in what were horrendous weather conditions. Lee has proven on many occasions that she is capable in all conditions and if she can hole some putts this week she could well find herself at the pointy end of the leaderboard come the weekend.
Queenslander Katherine Kirk made an emotional return to the winner’s circle after a seven-year hiatus with a gutsy victory at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic a few weeks back. The 35-year-old has had a tough last few seasons on the LPGA Tour, but with her confidence restored and a game which is proven in tough conditions Kirk will be looking to get herself into contention this week.
Kirk has one near miss in the Women’s British Open, finishing a heartbreaking second to Yani Tseng at Royal Birkdale in 2010 after failing to get up and down on the final hole to force a playoff.
Victorian Su Oh will play her fourth Women’s British Open this week, having made the cut on two of those occasions. The 21-year-old no doubt has the class to contend if every part of her game clicks, however we are yet to see that happen so far in 2017. Oh’s game so far in 2017 has lacked the consistency of her good friend and former Australian team-mate Lee, with her best finish coming at the Meijer Classic in mid-June where she finished in fourth place.
Queenslander Sarah Jane Smith began 2017 brimming with confidence after her best season on the LPGA Tour in 2016, however her early season form seems to have deserted her in recent weeks and she will be hoping that she can turn her form around quickly this week in what will be her 7th start in the event.
West Australian Whitney Hillier will be hoping to have recovered from a back injury which forced her to withdraw from last week’s Ladies Scottish Open prior to the opening round. Hillier has had a solid 2017 in the limited number of starts that she has had, including a third place finish in the Thailand Open.
She currently sits in 8th place on the LET Order of Merit, and will be hoping competing near her “home away from home” in St Andrews can inspire the 26-year-old in her second appearance at the tournament.
Victorian Stacey Peters, a two-time Ladies European Tour winner rounds out the Australian contingent this week. Peters was one of 22 qualifiers to make it through the Final Qualifying on Monday at the Castle Course in St Andrews, and although she has struggled so far in 2017 getting through the tough qualifying event, which included players of the calibre of Paula Creamer and Laura Davies could be the confidence booster the former Stacey Keating needs.
Australian tee times;
7:03am Karrie Webb, Beth Allen, Brittany Lincicome
10:15am Sarah Jane Smith, Pernilla Lindberg, Anne Van Dam
1:00pm Minjee Lee, Pamela Pretswell, Ai Suzuki
2.22pm Katherine Kirk, Whitney Hillier, Mi Jung Hur
2:55pm Stacey Peters, Marianne Skarpnord, Tonje Daffinrud
3:28pm Su Oh, Marissa Steen, Noora Tamminen
Live scoring can be found at lpgascoring.com
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