kingsbarns-links-ricoh-womens-british-open

 By Lewine Mair

The Ricoh Women’s British Open has the makings of a thrilling major championship, and any number of the leading players has the potential to lift the trophy.

Ariya Jutanugarn, who won last year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open at Woburn, will make for a fascinating study at this year’s edition of the championship at Kingsbarns from 3-6 August. As, indeed, will such other young things as Lydia Ko, Brooke Henderson, Lexi Thompson, Ingee Chun, and home players Charley
Hull and Georgia Hall. So many challenges await.

Kingsbarns is not so obviously tight as the tree-lined Woburn, but there will be wind and gorse along with an endless supply of astutely placed bunkers.

Jutanugarn says she will be teeing up with the same approach as last year.

“I’m going to keep it fun and I’m going to try and pick up on the kind of golf I’ll need to play before I get there.”

One of the first things the spectators will want to know is whether Ariya is going to do as she did last year in keeping her driver in the bag, or whether she will be lured by the combination of open vista and seaside air into giving it a whirl. The other point here, of course, is whether the course will be set up in a way which allows for someone with Jutanugarn’s length and strength to make the most of her exciting brand of power. (Sadly, we missed out on that part of her game at Woburn.)

Hull is one of those to have played Kingsbarns already, with the occasion a media day in April. It was windy and a little cold, but she was left with the feeling that she couldn’t wait to get back.

“It may be Kingsbarn’s first time as a major championship venue but it’s ready for us,” said the player.

It does not make sense to suggest that a member of the youngest set will come out on top in that every age-group is overflowing with talent at the moment. The next level up, for instance, includes the 28-year-old Inbee Park who won at Turnberry in 2015 and did as Justin Rose in collecting a gold medal at last year’s
Olympics. Inbee may only have added one win to her CV so far this year, but a total of five top tens would suggest that she is ready to do as she so often does in raising her game for a major.

So Yeon Ryu, who will be 27 when she tees up, will be understandably anxious to win again after her first-place in the ANA Inspiration failed to get the attention it deserved. True, the fourstroke penalty which could have cost Lexi Thompson the title was a big story, but did it deserve to overshadow So-Yeon’s feat to the extent that it did?

I, for one, don’t think so.

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