Stacy Lewis is entitled to believe she is due a change in luck when the 2015 Ricoh Women’s British Open gets underway at the Trump Turnberry Resort on Thursday.
The 2013 champion has only been in Scotland for a couple of days but already she’s had a lot more than just the unseasonal weather to contend with.
The American’s problems started when she lost her clubs in transit to the West of Scotland. That is an occupational hazard for all Tour professionals but what happened next elevated her travails into a different category altogether.
“I had a bit of an adventure yesterday,” she admitted before playing in the official pro-am. “I’d been calling all afternoon about my clubs but was getting nowhere until (Ai Miyazato’s caddie) Mick Seaborn heard what was going on.
“He told me a friend of his from school was the head of the British Airways Terminal 5 baggage area so he gave him a call and this guy went out onto the runway where there were probably thousands of bags piled up and found mine.
“He then made sure they were put on the last flight to Glasgow so my caddie, Travis (Wilson),and I jumped into out hire car only to get a flat tyre about five miles from the airport.
“You couldn’t make it up,” she added. “It’s part of the deal. But, mentally, just having those clubs last night, I mean, I slept a lot better just knowing I could play today and not have to worry about it.”
Despite her disrupted preparations Lewis will start among the favourites for this week’s Championship although with all of the top-20 in the Rolex World Ranking in the field she will certainly not be getting things all her own way.
Last year Mo Martin won the Championship but she has also has her own problems to overcome since lifting the trophy at Royal Birkdale and in her case they were of a considerably more serious nature.
The diminutive American completed her victory with a glorious 3-wood shot to within a few feet of the hole on the 72nd hole at Royal Birkdale but the following week she injured her left thumb while hitting a shot with the same club and at one point she wasn’t sure she would be able to play the game again.
“I didn’t want to think that way but it wasn’t good,” she said. “I got what you call a dorsal impingement. The joint capsule got so inflamed that it collapsed into the joint and that meant the bone was pinching my nerves.
“I’m pretty good with pain but I was calling it about an eight or a nine out of ten,” she added. “I was playing fantastic last year so the last thing I wanted was to have to take a couple of months off but that’s what I had to do.”
The good news is Martin is now back at what she does best and is currently leading the LPGA’s driving accuracy with a staggering 89.77% of fairways hit. She is out at 7.03 on Thursday morning and just ahead of her at 6.52 is Michelle Wie who arrived in the media centre wearing a protective boot on her left foot.
Wie was suffering from bursitis in her left hip and a bone spur in her left foot while finishing 11th at the recent US Women’s Open. She has taken the last couple of weeks off but is adamant she will be ready to challenge for the title come Sunday afternoon.
“It’s good,” she said in answer to a question about the current state of her health. “When I got here it was the first time I’d hit balls for a while so I was just kind of shaking off the rust. But it’s been feeling pretty good so I’m excited to play.”
The same can be said for 18 year-old Lydia Ko who warmed up for the Ricoh Women’s British Open by finishing tied fourth in last week’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at nearby Dundonald Links. “This one of the hardest tournaments to prepare for so I thought it would be a good idea to play in the Scottish.
“The secret here will be to stay out of the pot bunkers and the long rough. When you’re in a pot bunker it’s pretty much giving a shot away. But it’s a lot of fun playing in the British Open because it’s not like playing in any other event. Unfortunately, it’s only once a year, but that’s what makes it so special.”
The honour of hitting the first shot at this year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open goes to Japan’s Shiho Ohyama who tees off at 6.30 on Thursday morning in the company of America’s Morgan Pressel and current Ladies European Tour No. 1, Gwladys Nocera from France. Ko is out in the next game at 6.41 together with Japan’s Mika Miyazato and Britanny Lincicome from the USA.
In Gee Chun also starts early at 7.25 alongside England’s Georgia Hall and Australia’s Karrie Webb who won this Championship the only other time it was held at Turnberry back in 2002 and the latest Korean sensation may well start as favourite despite the fact this is her first appearance in this event.
To date this season, Chun has won four times on the Korean LPGA Tour, once on the Japan LPGA Tour and also at the US Women’s Open where she beat Amy Yang by one shot and Inbee Park and Lewis by three.
Not surprisingly, Chun is currently hot property in her native country. “A lot has happened to me in the last two months,” she admitted. “Everybody in Korea seems to be watching me right now. It’s crazy. Now that I’m here in Scotland everybody will probably stay up all night to watch. I’m really looking forward to it.