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CARLY FROST
Editor
Ladies Golf Today

Carly's blog - news and views on the world of ladies' golf
July 07, 2014


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Special Preview: Women's British Open
A very 'Royal' welcome to the Ricoh

There's nothing more exciting than a Major Championship week so I was buzzing when I pulled into the car park at Royal Birkdale Golf Club on Monday evening to beautiful blue skies, the perfect start to what promises to be a wonderful week of golf on the West Lancashire links.

The Ricoh Women's British Open is returning here for the sixth time and the event kicks off a fortnight of golf in this wonderful part of the world, as the men's Open Championship follows suit just up the road at Hoylake next week. My first impression of the course conditions here at Royal Birkdale are as I expected - the greens are running very fast but true, the fairways are neatly mown and tight, the bunkering is tough and of course the wispy rough grass is to be avoided at all costs as it is lethal!

The weather forecast looks a little unfavourable with some wet weather and high wind on the cards, which will make scoring tough, but all-in-all things are shaping up for an exciting tournament.

I've handpicked a selection of players who I think could be worth an each-way bet if you fancy a flutter for fun.

If you want to ask any of the players a specific question let me know and I will endeavour to get hold of the mic in one of the press conferences and put it forward for you. Just email me at: carly@golftodaynetwork.com

Carly's picks for the royal Ricoh crown!

Charley Hull

The 18-year-old will undoubtedly be one of the home soil favourites, attracting plenty of followers alongside her on the fairways this week. Charley had a sensational start to her professional career with 5 second place finishes in her first season on Tour helping her capture the 2013 Rookie of the Year title. She made her breakthrough into the winner's circle just before her 18th birthday in the LET Lalia Meryem Cup in Morocco earlier this year and as we speak she is leading the Ladies European Tour money list. I know Charley's big ambition is to get to World Number One and contend in the Majors. Her classy performance in last year's Solheim Cup (who can forget how she annihilated Paula Creamer in the singles) showed that she has the game to challenge the best players in the world.

Yani Tseng

Last year Yani became the youngest player ever, male or female, to have won all four Majors - aged just 22. Given that she won the title here at Royal Birkdale back in 2010 she is not surprisingly confident that a repeat performance could be on the cards this week. "I think Royal Birkdale is an unbelievable course and I feel so proud to have won there. I hope to win again!" said Yani.

Stacy Lewis

The defending champion is coming into this week full of confidence, as she is having an fantastic 2014 playing season and has amassed over $1.8 million in 13 top 10s. In fact it would be pretty hard to bet against Stacy given that she has only finished outside the top 12 once this year and has made every cut! As for whether she can achieve the amazing feat of back-to-back Ricoh titles remains to be seen, but she's surely a strong contender.

Lexi Thompson

Lexi is a sponsors dream. She looks great, has charisma and swings the club with free-flowing power and finesse that gives her the 'wow factor' to watch, making her one of the most talented teenagers on Tour. Lexi is no stranger to crowds of spectators and pressure - at the age of 12 she was the youngest golfer ever to qualify to play in the U.S. Women's Open. Her decision to turn professional at just 15 years old caused a stir but she has proved her critics by capturing her first Major title this year in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, and that's despite still being just 19 years old. She's yet to truly prove her skills on British soil as her best finish in the Ricoh Championship is tied 17, but as an each-way bet she's worth a punt.

Michelle Wie

After a turbulent start to her professional career, in which Wie was tipped for the top and tried to test her skills against the men, nearly making the cut in several PGA Tour events, Michelle is finally living up to that acclaim. She did the sensible thing and took a few years out of playing professionally to go to Stanford University and get a degree and she has come back to the game with a renewed vigour, a decision that has paid dividends as she has now won her first Major title in the U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst just a couple of weeks ago. Her length off the tee and ability to control her ball flight will undoubtedly be key strengths at Royal Birkdale this week.

Lydia Ko

The New Zealander is one of the most talented teenagers on Tour. She broke all records as an amateur by winning not once but twice on Tour and when she turned professional last year she immediately continued that winning form and already has 6 professional victories to her name. Lydia finished second in the Evian Championship, which has newly-appointed Major status, at the end of 2013 and has been as high up the women's world rankings as Number 2 this year. It is only a matter of time before she wins that first Major, watch this space...

Stephanie Meadow

Although the Europeans didn't triumph in the Curtis Cup last year young Irish star Stephanie Meadow was one of the star players on the team. Nearly 12 months on she has turned professional and has made a fantastic start to her career, earning over $300,000 on the LPGA Tour. Without an exemption to this week's Ricoh Women's British Open she had to go to final qualifying on Monday, which was played just up the road on the famous links at Southport & Ainsdale, and she cruised through grabbing one of the top spots with a fantastic score of five-under-par 69. With that sort of form behind her it wouldn't surprise me if she easily made the cut and was contending come the weekend.

And don't forget...

Past champion Laura Davies who was recently bestowed with the title of Dame in the Queen's honours list. Laura won here back in 1986 and is playing in her record 30th Women's British Open this week. Her form may have been shaky of late but if she can get her putter going she'll be a contender. "I can't believe this will be my 30th time playing in the Women's British Open," said Laura. "I've seen it develop over three decades as it has attracted more and more major sponsors and now it truly is one of the biggest events we play in the year, much of which is down to Ricoh's extraordinary support."

Others to watch...Catriona Matthew, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Inbee Park, So Yeon Ryu...

Tips from the Tour - the bump and run - a links shot essential!

By Dan Frost, coach to elite England amateur Georgia Hall, on the green at Birkdale

With the Birkdale turf hard and bouncy playing chip shots onto the green can be unpredictable so this week you're going to see a lot of players using the safest strategy of hitting a very low running bump with a less lofted club onto the practice green. One of the shots that I have Georgia practising is the basic bump and run. This shot requires a swing similar to the putting stroke with smooth acceleration and an even tempo.

The hands stay very passive. A simple way to get a good feel for the connection between the arms and body is to put a golf glove under your left armpit and hit your chips. This ensures good connection and you should find a crisper strike and truer run-out onto the green, just like a putt.

Spotted on the practice ground...

Recent Major Champion Michelle Wie was working with her coach David Leadbetter on controlling her ball flight with her iron shots. Michelle was rehearsing her punch shots using a simple three-quarter swing that keeps the club under control in windy conditions and the ball flight low. This shortened backswing and curtailed follow-through produces a low trajectory ball flight that penetrates through the wind.

Stacy Lewis was grooving a smooth tempo by hitting wedge shots one-handed. This was encouraging her to swing with a wonderful rhythm and really control the shot. When the wind blows it is easy to lose your tempo, lose your balance and lose your ball! By taking more club and swinging smoother you have a much greater chance of staying in control.

Laura Davies was getting her putting stroke analysed by putter experts Raa putters, working on her alignment and stroke. She has a new putter in the bag this week that has as thicker grip to help take the hands out of her putting action and improve feel.

Fashion for the fairways

You better come prepared to Birkdale

If you are coming to watch the ladies golf this week at Royal Birkdale then you had better come prepared with your waterproofs as the forecast is for some scrawly showers.

If you are looking for a new jacket to add some style to your wardrobe then you'll be hard-pushed to find a finer label than luxury ladies golf fashion brand Chervò.

The new ladies' MOCIO is a thermo-lined jacket that benefits from AQUA-BLOCK technology, which protects golfers from rain and wind thanks to its ‘laminated-plus' high-tech membrane. With 20,000 mm of water column performance – taped and water-repellent seams, and indelible finishing.

The hydrophilic film ensures high breathability, with values as high as 20,000 g/mq for 24 hours. Micro-fibre, and the invisible technology used to apply the membrane, ensures every garment is soft, noiseless, and easy to wash – and they come with a lifetime guarantee.

The brand's special four-way stretch fabric – called, appropriately, 4-WAY STRETCH – allows full, unhindered movement. It is light, ladder-proof and affords maximum breathability with quick drying and evaporating qualities. It is included in the Comfort by Chervò range, designed and manufactured to guarantee maximum freedom of movement.

Available in four colours in sizes 6-18 priced at £293.30. For more information visit www.chervo.com

AMATEUR NEWS

Good luck team Europe

I'd like to wish our home players good luck in the 2014 European Ladies' Amateur Team Championship and Girls' Team Championships, which are being played at Ljubljana Golf Club in Slovenia this week (8th-12th July).

I hope you bring the trophies home!

Sammie triumphs in all-Cornwall battle

Top seed Sammie Giles won the all-Cornwall battle to become the new English women's open mid-amateur champion at Bath Golf Club.

She beat her county colleague Sarah-Jane Boyd by 3/2 in the final to take the title and said afterwards: “It feels good, really good.

“I have always lost to Sarah-Jane in the past so I was just trying to pretend that it wasn't her, that it was someone else! She's a great player and I couldn't take anything for granted,” said Sammie.

The two players are friends, but that didn't affect the match: “We both get on really well and it will definitely be just the same off the course,” said Sammie. “But on the course you have to be different, you have to forget who you are playing and just concentrate on what you have to do.”

The 19-year-old from St Mellion reached the semi-final of this event last year and came back determined to do better. She's played great golf all week and was on top form throughout the final, notching up four birdies and playing the 16 holes of the match in two-under par.

The players halved the first four holes, but Sammie made her move with back to back birdies on the 5th and 6th and, after a third birdie on the 10th, she was three up.

She got to four up after 11 holes and holed the putt to complete an inpressive up and down for par. But then she faltered slightly, losing the 12th, where Sarah-Jane had a great up and down from a greenside bunker; and the 13th, where her opponent against demonstrated her impressive short game to save par.

“I got a bit ahead of myself when I went four up,” admitted Sammie. “You can see the finish line and I was thinking about stuff you shouldn't. You need to snap back into it – and I did.”

She stopped the slide with a solid par which won the short 14th. On the 15th she holed a 20-footer for a birdie four and appeared to have her hand on the trophy – but Sarah-Jane wasn't finished. She rammed home her birdie putt and the players continued to the 16th.

Both missed the green, but both got up and down for par and this time the trophy was definitely in Sammie's hands.

The strength of Sammie's game this week was her putting: “I putted well all week and didn't really miss anything from inside 6ft, it was really solid,” she said. ` Sarah-Jane, who is the reigning English amateur champion and a past British stroke play champion, was disappointed but, she said, determined to learn from the experience. “It just wasn't my day, I only had one birdie and that just doesn't cut it,” she remarked.








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