Who’s Who and What’s What for the Women’s British Open
Thereâ€™s plenty of intrigue building up for the womenâ€™s version of the British Open this week, and almost everyone in the upper echelons has something good to play for, in addition to winning the tournament. If you believe that the womenâ€™s turn in Britain lacks the spectacular appeal of the PGA event, donâ€™t tell that to the Koreans. For one thing, womenâ€™s golf is the more popular sport in this recently golf-crazed country, and time zones will be no barrier at all to watching every bit of the action.
Inbee Park has noticed the uptick in fascination with womenâ€™s golf. She once enjoyed almost total anonymity, but is now recognized frequently on her home streets. Itâ€™s not just that sheâ€™s so successful, but that she is one leg short of the LPGAâ€™s grand slam, having one three big ones in the same year. That would be the perfect counterpart to the menâ€™s tour, although no one there has pulled it off for many decades.
Thereâ€™s another possible intruder on Parkâ€™s plan, and we might not immediately guess who it might be, because she did a lot of her winning a decade or so ago. She has 54 professional wins, 39 on tour, was the youngest player inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame (at the tender age of thirty), was European and LPGA Rookie of the Year in successive years, a Vare trophy recipient, an LPGA Achievement Award winner, and the leading money winner in three seasons.
No, Lorena Ochoa is not coming back â€“ no, Annika Sorenstam has not decided to pick up where she left off â€“ no, Mickey Wright remains in retirement. Ordinarily, I wouldnâ€™t mention it, but Australian sensation Karrie Webb won a tournament this week, the Ladies European Masters, and itâ€™s not the case of an older player going out in one more blaze of glory. It seems as though Webb has been quietly winning forever, while Ochoa, Sorenstam and Park receive the scrutiny and media attention. No, sheâ€™s still in her thirties, right in the middle of big winning years if the quality of her game keeps it up. Certainly, her nerves are intact. She came from behind with two eagles in the final round for a 7 under 65.
Of course, like everyone else who will gather in Britain this week, these women want desperately to win this tournament, but there are other considerations to be made as well. There is some Solheim Cup action going on that will crystallize this week, and at least on the American side, no one whoâ€™s already a lock wants to blow it. Those who are not a lock want to reestablish themselves and their presence in the eyes of captain Meg Mallon.
The team figures to feature Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer (whose handstands on the famous Old Course before the press yesterday morning put a little spice in the old place), Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lincicome, Lexi Thompson,Jessica Korda and Brittany Lang â€“ at least those are the ones we think are featured. Lizette Salas, Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie would love to get into that action, and Salas isnâ€™t that far off in terms of the rankings. Pressel and Wie would pretty much have to win the thing.
So, enter the Korean juggernaut, the reigning victory queen from Australia and a lot of aspiring team players when Europe and the states meet for the next Solheim round. Needless to say, of course, it could come down to none of these people. Somebody entirely unexpected might win it â€“ after all, it is golf.