AIG Women’s British Open Final

Troon waits to crown its champion

Royal Troon, Old Course

Royal Troon is making its debut on the AIG Women’s British Open championship rota in 2020, which means that the world’s best female golfers will have the opportunity to play on one of the finest links courses for the first time.

Founded in 1878 by a few enthusiasts, Troon Golf Club soon outgrew its purely local reputation. Today, the inward nine of Royal Troon Old Course is widely accepted as the most demanding of any course on The Open Championship rota.

Royal Troon, Old Course

The Open was first played at Royal Troon in 1923, which saw Arthur Havers defeat Walter Hagen by one stroke. The Open is scheduled to be played at the venue for the tenth time in 2023 however, this could be affected by the R&A’s decision to cancel the 2020 championship due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Open was last held at Royal Troon in 2016 when Henrik Stenson memorably shot a superb final round 63 to hold off the challenge of Phil Mickelson in an unforgettable duel and win the championship on a record 20-under-par total of 264.

Stenson joined a celebrated list of golfers who have lifted the Claret Jug including Havers, Bobby Locke (1950), Arnold Palmer (1962), Tom Weiskopf (1973), Tom Watson (1982), Mark Calcaveccia (1989), Justin Leonard (1997) and Todd Hamilton (2004).

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said: “Royal Troon is one of the world’s greatest championship links. It has produced many memorable moments throughout the history of The Open including the dramatic duel between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson that captivated millions of fans.”

The best women players in the world are eager to arrive to book their place in history this August.

05/08/2019. Ladies European Tour 2019. AIG Women’s British Open, Woburn Golf Club, Woburn, England. 1-4 August 2019. Hinako Shibuno of Japan with her trophy. Credit: Tristan Jones

Last year’s major champions, Jeongeun Lee6, who won the US Women’s Open, Hannah Green, who won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and Jin Young Ko, who won the ANA Inspiration and Evian Championship, will be among the likely contenders.

Perhaps 2020 will bring another unheralded major champion, like Green and defending champion Hinako Shibuno, who won the AIG Women’s British Open last year at Woburn and became the first Japanese player to win a major in 42 years.

Inbee Park, who completed the Career Grand Slam with victory in the Women’s British Open at Turnberry in 2015, is back in form having won the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in February.

05/08/2019. Ladies European Tour 2019. AIG Women’s British Open, Woburn Golf Club, Woburn, England. 1-4 August 2019. Hinako Shibuno of Japan with her trophy. Credit: Tristan Jones

The 31-year-old Olympic gold medallist from Seoul captured her 20th LPGA Tour title two years on from her previous victory. However, don’t rule out Nelly Korda, Sung-Hyun Park, Nasa Hataoka or Danielle Kang, who are all making a run up the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.

The most recent British winners of the championship were Georgia Hall and Catriona Matthew, who won at Royal Lytham in 2019 and 2009 respectively. Matthew will be celebrating a fortnight of professional women’s golf in Scotland, following the previous week’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick and she said: “It’s always special to play in front of your home fans.”

There is an impressive group of accomplished young athletes on the Ladies European Tour who are ready and driven to compete this season. The first three tournaments all produced maiden winners  in Steph Kyriacou, Julia Engström and Alice Hewson, with an average age of just 19.

Hewson, the first Englishwoman to play at Augusta National in the Women’s Amateur last year, won the 2019 European Ladies’ Amateur, which gave her an exemption into the AIG Women’s British Open, in which she played at Woburn, only 20 minutes’ from her home in Hertfordshire.

Engström also has a fine pedigree on Scottish courses. In 2016, at age 15, she became the youngest player to win the British Ladies Amateur Golf Championship at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire,  earning her starts in the US Women’s Open, Women’s British Open and Evian Championship.

03/08/2019. Ladies European Tour 2019. AIG Women’s British Open, Woburn Golf Club, Woburn, England. 1-4 August 2019. Charley Hull of England during the second round. Credit: Tristan Jones

In April 2019, Pia Babnik, the LET’s youngest rookie member in 2020, who turned 16 in January, won the Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open Championship at Royal Troon.

A bogey-free final round of 66 helped the Slovenian teenager to a seven-stroke victory over France’s Charlotte Bunel. She returned to Scotland to represent Europe in the PING Junior Solheim Cup in September.

Indeed, last year’s European Solheim Cup team will bring fond memories back to Scotland, boosted by their victory in the biennial contest at Gleneagles.

The likes of Céline Boutier, Carlota Ciganda, Anne van Dam, Caroline Hedwall, Charley Hull, Azahara Muñoz, Caroline Masson, Bronte Law and Jodi Ewart-Shadoff will all be looking for a first major.

A place in history will no doubt inspire and motivate the players, who will be eager to discover what tales will be told at Troon in Scotland, the Home of Golf.

July 18, 2020 8:33 am

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