Ricoh Women’s British Open to return to Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2018
The Ricoh Women’s British Open will take place at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club for a fifth time in 2018.
The Championship was last played there in 2009 when Catriona Matthew famously became the first Scottish woman to clinch a Major title, remarkably only 11 weeks after giving birth to her second daughter.
Matthew, who was a member of this summer’s UK Olympic team and was recently announced as a Vice Captain for the 2017 Solheim Cup, commented, “I am absolutely delighted to hear the 2018 Ricoh Women’s British Open will be played at Royal Lytham. Winning there so soon after Sophie’s birth was undoubtedly the best achievement in my career and I think it is wonderful news that we will be returning there in a couple of years.”
Sherri Steinhauer won the first Championship held at the venerable Lancashire venue back in 1998. Sweden’s Annika Sorenstam followed the American into the winner’s circle when the Championship was held there in 2003 and then Steinhauer emerged victorious for a third time – the American also won at Woburn Golf & Country Club in 1999 – when she closed with a level par 72 to defeat compatriot, Christie Kerr, in 2006.
Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club is one of the most challenging of the Open and Ricoh Women’s British Open venues with 169 bunkers to challenge the players. The Club has hosted eleven Open Championships, the most recent in 2012, won by South Africa’s Ernie Els.
Charles Grimley, Secretary, Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club, said, “Our membership is very excited to welcome back another Ricoh Women’s British Open. It is a tournament with a very special feel to it which I suspect is largely thanks to the wonderfully engaging personalities on the women’s tours. This will be very popular news in the area and we will all look forward to 2018 very much.”
Trish Wilson, Chairman Ladies’ Golf Union’s, added, “Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club is a very popular venue amongst the players and we are very happy to be returning there for a fifth time in 2018. Our commitment is to ensure the Championship is held at Britain’s best courses and there is no doubt that Royal Lytham lives up to this criteria.”
The Ricoh Women’s British Open was founded by the LGU in 1976 and has been staged in conjunction with IMG, the world’s largest sports marketing company, since 1984. The event has been co-sanctioned by the LPGA and LET since 1994 and gained Major status in 2001.
Jutanugarn Wins Maiden Major and Puts Thai Golf on the Map
Ariya Jutanugarn survived a late scare to secure a memorable victory at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Woburn.
The 20-year-old from Bangkok lost this year’s first Major – the ANA Inspiration – when she bogeyed the last three holes to hand the title to Lydia Ko but this time she made no such mistake despite running up a double bogey on the 13th which momentarily saw her three shot lead over South Korea’s Mirim Lee cut to just one.
Jutanugarn had said after her third round 66 that she has learned from her set-back in California and she proved as good as her word after recovering to play her last five holes in one under par and to finish three shots ahead of first round leader Lee and 2014 champion Mo Martin on 16-under par 272.
Junatugarn’s win secures her a place in the record books as the first Thai player of either sex to win one of golf’s nine Major Championships.
A first prize of £310,838 edges her closer to Ko at the top of the LPGA’s official Race to CME Globe money list while her maiden Major victory is projected to move her up to third place on the Rolex Ranking behind only Ko and Canada’s Brooke Henderson.
The victory also signals a remarkable transformation for the Thai player who 12 months ago endured her tenth missed cut in a row at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry.
“This win means a lot to me,” an emotional Jutanugarn said moments after putting out on the last. “The last five holes were very hard after the six at the 13th but I also knew I could do it.
“I learned a lot from what happened to me at the ANA Inspiration and I think that helped today. After that hole I was a bit nervous but I tried to commit to every shot and not to worry about anything else.
“It’s a big day for me and also for golf in Thailand,” she added. “It has always been my goal to win a Major and I hope I can inspire some other Thai players to do the same.”
Lee was Jutanugarn’s closest challenger throughout the final round but a costly three-putt at the last saw her post a 73 and slip back into a share of second place with Martin on 275.
2013 champion Stacy Lewis closed with her third successive two under par 70 to claim fourth place on 11-under par 277 while fifth place was shared by 2009 champion Catriona Matthew, South Korea’s Ha Na Jang and Australia’s Karrie Webb who claimed the 1997 title the last time the Championship was staged at Woburn.
Early on the final morning Charley Hull gave her home fans something to shout about when she played her first 12 holes in seven under par before dropping four shots coming home to finish with a 69 for a five under par total of 283.
That final round summed an up-and-down four days for Hull during which she fired 18 birdies but also eight bogeys, one double bogey and one triple bogey.
“It was great fun,” said the 20-year-old from Kettering who now travels to the Olympics where she is representing Great Britain alongside Matthew. “I’ve enjoyed the whole week although I didn’t play quite as well as I wanted.
“Now I’m looking forward to Rio and another big event,” she added. “I’m buzzing for it. I’m excited. I’ve never played in South America before.”
Ireland’s Leona Maguire closed with a three over par 75 to win the race for the Smyth Salver awarded to the leading amateur who plays all four rounds of the Championship.
Maguire’s four under par aggregate of 284 was enough to see her finish five shots ahead of Curtis Cup colleague Bronte Law after the English international dropped three shots over her last four holes to card a 74 and finish in a share of 47th place on one over par 289.
“I’ve had a great week,” confirmed the Irish amateur who is another player bound for the Olympics. “I’d liked to have played better today but it’s a huge honour to win the trophy.
Spanish teenager Maria Parra was the third amateur to make the cut. She ended her challenge with a 76 to finish in 73rd place on 297.
Jutanugarn Leads by Two Heading into Final Round
Ariya Jutanugarn produced some record-breaking form to move to the top of the leaderboard heading into the final round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open over the Marquess’ course at Woburn.
The 20-year-old Thai golfer carded a third round of six under par 66 to overhaul overnight leader Mirim Lee and go into the final round with a two shot lead over the South Korean player on 16 under par 200.
Jatanugarn’s 200 total is one less than the previous Championship 54-hole record set by Germany’s Caroline Masson at Carnoustie back in 2011.
The Thai golfer has won three times on this year’s LPGA Tour and is now ideally placed to go on and claim her first Major title. She began her third round with birdies on the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 8th and went on to cruise to the top of the leaderboard with further birdies on the 10th and 14th.
“I feel very comfortable,” said the Thai player whose older sister, Moriya, also made the cut and moved up into a share of 27th place with a third round 68. “I didn’t hit my irons good but I still made a lot of birdies.
“I think I know how to play under the pressure tomorrow,” she added. “I know the only thing I have to focus on is what I can control.”
Lee began the Championship with a ten under par 62 and is still Jutanugarn’s nearest challenger after adding rounds of 71 and 69 for a 54-hole aggregate of 202.
Right behind the South Korean are former champions Mo Martin, Catriona Matthew and Stacy Lewis who are all nicely placed to make a last round charge. Martin posted a 69 to slip one shot ahead of veteran Scot Matthew on 11-under par 205 while 2013 champion Lewis completes an ominous chasing pack after posting her second consecutive 70 to lie one shot further back on 207.
China’s Shanshan Feng, South Korea’s Ha Na Jang and America’s Lexi Thompson all share sixth place on 208.
Ireland’s Leona Maguire holds a comprehensive seven shot lead over Curtis Cup colleague Bronte Law in the race for the Smyth Salver awarded to the leading amateur who play all four rounds of the Championship.
English international Law started the day one shot ahead of Maguire after two opening rounds of 70 but fell away with a 76 and saw herself overtaken as Maguire carded a fine 68 to finish the day in tenth place on seven under par 209. Law finished the day back in 52nd place on level par 216.
“It was a great day out there,” said Maguire. “I enjoyed every minute of it.
“I played some really nice golf and gave myself a lot of chances.
“I’ve had a blast this week. It’s a big bonus being here and being able to play against the best players in the world. It gives me a taste for what I want to do.
“Amateur golf is as strong now as it’s ever been,” she added. “Bronte is obviously a good friend of mine at college in the States but it’s great to see all the amateurs doing so well this week.”
Former winners of the Smyth Salver include Michelle Wie (2005), Mel Reid (2007), Anna Nordqvist (2008) and Lydia Ko (2012 and 2013).
Lee Leads Packed International Leaderboard
Mirim Lee clings to a slender lead heading into the third round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open Championship over the Marquess’ course at Woburn.
The South Korean went into the second round with a three shot lead after carding an opening ten under par 62 but saw that advantage cut to one after adding a one under par 71 which still sees her go into the third round tieing the Championship’s 36-hole scoring record on 11-under par 133.
Lee’s nearest rivals are China’s Shanshan Feng and Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn who carded rounds of 68 and 69 to slip into a share of second place on 134.
The biggest move of the day came from 2009 champion Catriona Matthew who fired a flawless seven under par 65 to finish tied with South Korea’s Ha Na Jang on nine under par 135 and a single shot ahead of 2014 champion Mo Martin.
Lee speaks very little English but for the second day in a row she let her clubs do the talking with a round which combined three birdies on the 4th, 7th and 14th with her first dropped shots of the Championship at the 13th and 17th.
“Today I had issues with my tee shots but I think I putted okay,” said the South Korean through an interpreter. “There was a little bit of nervousness but after the first few holes you forget about it. You need a bit of nerves to make you play better.”
Feng was out in the first match in the morning at 06.30 but she quickly stirred into life with four birdies in her first seven holes before another birdie on the last saw her home in level par 36.
“That birdie made lunch taste a lot better,” said the former LPGA champion from Guangzhou. “I’ve brought my A-game with me this time. I would say I’m not thinking about the others. I think I just need to worry about my own golf and just play like the first two days.”
Jutanugarn has risen to sixth place on the official Rolex Ranking on the back of three consecutive victories earlier this season on the LPGA Tour and she is still on course to registering a first Major win after playing her last ten holes in three under par.
The Thai player let one chance slip at this year’s ANA Inspiration but now feels much better prepared to handle the special pressure involved with coming down the stretch in the Majors.
“I think I learned how to play under pressure. How to play excited. I really want to focus on what I’m doing and what I can control. At the ANA I didn’t do that. I just focussed on the result.”
One player who is not short of experience at any level is Matthew who was recently described as one of Britain’s most under-rated athletes by a leading sports administrator. She has been plying her trade on Tour since the mid-1990s but still rated her round right up there among the best of her career.
“That’s probably one of the best rounds I’ve played,” confirmed the Scot. “I think I hit 18 greens today. I hit one awful tee shot on 16 but then followed it with my best shot of the day, a 4-iron onto the green.”
Jang looked set to challenge compatriot Lee for the lead after racing to the turn in four under par 32 and then adding further birdies on the 12th, 14th and 15th but late bogeys on the 16th and 18th saw her drop back into the tie for fourth place with the veteran Scot.
Hull Set for a Weekend Charge
Charley Hull heads into the weekend poised just behind the leaders after the second round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Woburn.
The 20-year-old Woburn member added a two under par 70 to her opening 69 to go into the third round within the group at five under par 139.
Hull began her second round with dropped shots at the 3rd and the 6th but then fired five birdies in-a-row from the 9th before giving one shot back with a bogey on the 16th.
“The five birdies in-a-row really got me going,” she said. “I just said to myself that I needed to hole a couple of putts and that’s what I did.
“It’s great fun playing in front of my home supporters,” she added. “It’s great for my golf and great for Woburn. I think it’s brilliant.”
Hull admitted she had been very nervous starting out her first round but was back to her normal frame of mind in time to start her second round at 06.41 this morning.
“Today I didn’t feel anywhere near more nervous,” she confirmed. “I felt a lot better. I was in the zone yesterday but I felt it more today.”
Hull went out alongside Australia’s Karrie Webb who won the 1995 Ricoh Women’s British Open over Woburn’s Duke’s course and now 21 years later has the chance to repeat that feat over the Marquess’ course after carding two rounds of 69 to go into the weekend on six under par 138.
“I have a very positive feel about this place and felt I settled in pretty quickly,” she said “It’s great to revisit good memories.”