The world's best female players have arrived at Kingsbarns Golf Links, near St Andrews for the 41st staging of the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
It is the first time the venue has held the season's penultimate major, and looks set to put on a spectacular show, with all 25 of the world's best players in the field, including defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn.
Since winning the title at Woburn twelve months ago, the 21-year-old from Thailand has topped the 2016 LPGA Money list and attained the World No. 1 ranking, although she has since been usurped by Korea's So Yeon Ryu, the 2017 ANA Inspiration champion, who will be looking to win her first Ricoh Women’s British Open title this week.
Jutanugarn, who has said her driver is likely to be in her locker throughout the course of the championship, has been struggling with a nagging shoulder injury, inflamed from surgery she had in 2013, and having missed the cut or withdrawn from three consecutive events in July, will be hoping that she can gain some much needed momentum over the testing Scottish links.
Lexi Thompson, who has been in sensational form so far this season, will have the bonus of having Kevin McAlpine on the bag, a former Kingsbarns caddie, who joined forces with the American shortly before her controversial second place at the ANA Inspiration. She cited the Scot as one of the key reasons behind her rise to World No. 2 in the rankings, saying that her 'best friend' had made her feel more relaxed than ever on the golf course.
The 2015 champion Inbee Park from South Korea, who won at Turnberry, makes her return to the championship, having been forced to sit out the 2016 event with a thumb injury, and will be hoping to join Yani Tseng and Jiyai Shin as the third multiple winner of the championship since it became a major in 2001.
She will face fierce competition if she is to do so with former World No. 1 Lydia Ko, US Women's Open Champion Sung Hyun Park, and the in-form Michelle Wie also in the field.
Local hope Sally Watson will hit the opening tee shot at 6.30am on Thursday, while fellow Scot Catriona Matthew will tee off at 7.25am with Anna Nordqvist and Leona Maguire.
Maguire, the British Ladies Amateur champion and the world's top ranked amateur female golfer, is making her third appearance at the event, having won the Symth Salver at last year's tournament. She will be joined in the field by two other amateurs, compatriot Olivia Mehaffey and England's Sophie Lamb, who made it through final qualifying on Monday alongside Dame Laura Davies and Paula Creamer.
With the women's game receiving a number of negative headlines as of late, the spectacular course provides the perfect venue to showcase the world's best players, although with rounds nearing on six hours at the Aberdeen Asset Scottish Ladies Open last week, we hope it won't be slow play that agains dominates the conversation as it did at Woburn.
The Ricoh Women’s British Open is the final event before the 2017 Solheim Cup returns to U.S. soil at Des Moines Golf & Country Club in West Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 18-20, 2017, and the stakes have never been higher as both Teams USA and Europe will be announced following Sunday’s conclusion of play.
Kingsbarns Challenge Awaits For Solheim Cup Contenders. Read More