Parker and Tidy call on local support at Royal Birkdale

Kelly Tidy

Florentyna Parker and Kelly Tidy will have a good deal of local support on their side when they tee up in the 2010 Ricoh Women’s British Open which starts at The Royal Birkdale Golf Club on Thursday.

Parker and Tidy are both members of the host club and hope to count on their knowledge of the course to secure a high finish at the conclusion of the Championship on Sunday night.

Both come into the Championship with prestigious wins under their belts in recent weeks and both have been boosted by excellent draws which will see them tee up alongside four of the leading figures in women’s golf over the first two rounds on Thursday and Friday.

Eighteen year-old Tidy, who lives about 45 minutes away from the course in Bolton, got into the Championship as a result of winning the 2010 Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship at Ganton where she defeated Scotland’s Kelsey MacDonald 2 & 1 in the first all British final since 2000. 21 year-old Parker owes her place in the Championship in no small part to her victory in the recent ABN AMRO Ladies Open on the Ladies European Tour and now both want to put their knowledge of the Birkdale course to good use over the four days of the Championship.

“I’m so looking forward to playing my first Major in front of my friends and family,” said Tidy who recently earned an International Sports Diploma at college and plans to play full time amateur golf ahead of turning professional.

“I would have tried to come through qualifying if I hadn’t won the British Ladies but this is much better because it has given me time to prepare for the challenge ahead.

“I reckon that over the last five years I have played the course about three times every week so it would be fair to say I know it better than anyone else in this week’s field,” she added.

“It’s going to be fun to see how my golf compares with the best players in the world and I will get a great chance to do that when I tee up alongside former champions Karen Stupples and Sherri Steinhauer on Thursday and Friday.

“I can’t wait to get started.”

Parker begins her challenge at 7.14 am (BST) on Thursday morning in the august company of defending champion, Catriona Matthew, and reigning US Open champion, Paula Creamer, and she will have the added advantage of having former Bernhard Langer caddie, Peter Coleman, on her bag for the week.

“It will be great to have Pete as my caddie,” she said. “He knows the course very well and he was Bernhard Langer’s caddie for 22 years so he’s got lots of experience I will be able to call on.

“I live in Germany but I have played Birkdale almost as much as Kelly,” she added. “I’m really happy to be able to play here. It’s amazing and the draw I have got is even more of a bonus.”

Parker and Tidy will have to be on their top form if they are to make their mark against a strong Ricoh Women’s British Open field that includes 27 out of the top 30 golfers in the top Rolex Women’s World Rankings but they are by no means the only English golfers hoping to do well.

Current Ladies European Tour No. 1, Laura Davies, won the Championship at Birkdale back in 1986 and younger compatriot, Melissa Reid, is hoping to emulate her some 14 years later.

Reid claimed her first LET title at the recent ABN AMRO Ladies Open in Holland and she comes in the event brimming with confidence.

“I’m here to win,” she said in answer to a question about her goal for the week. “I don’t think it’s too much to ask. If I stay patient, and if my mind stays calm, I believe I can compete with these girls. I feel I can beat them as well.”

Two of the form horses going into this week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open Championship are America’s Cristie Kerr and Japan’s Ai Miyazato.

Kerr has four previous top-10s to her name in the Championship, including a tie for fifth place the last time it was played at Birkdale back in 2005, and she recently produced the form of her life while winning the LPGA Championship presented by Wegmans by no less than 12 shots.

“That was a dream performance,” she admitted. “I have struggled a bit since but I love links golf and Birkdale in particular.

“I just like how it’s so out in front of you and you can see where you need to go. The approach shots into the green fit my eye and these greens are very good. So I like the course a lot.

Kerr is currently engaged in a close tussle with Korea’s Jiyai Shin, Norway’s Suzann Pettersen and Japan’s Miyazato for the No. 1 spot on the Rolex World Rankings and the American admits it is a serious goal as she enters the fourth Major of the women’s season.

“I have to keep my mind on the job at hand but it is a goal of mine,” she said. “I have been No. 1 but now I have dropped to No. 3 and I want to get first place back. It’s a fun challenge. You’ve got to post a lot of consecutive good rounds. You’ve got to be consistent over a long period of time and that’s what I’d like to do.”

Miyazato has won four times on this season’s LPGA Tour and now appears close to adding a first major title to her name.

“I’m probably playing the best golf of my life right now,” said the Japanese superstar. “I’m totally happy about my season and would like nothing better than to add a fifth victory here at Birkdale.

“With Ricoh being a Japanese company that would make it even more special,” she added.

Miyazato and Reid go out at 7.25 am (BST) on Thursday morning alongside former champion Karrie Webb from Australia. Kerr is one of the later starters. She tees off at 11.59 am in the company of Sweden’s Helen Alfredsson and fellow American Brittany Lincicome.

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