A talented field featuring Major champions, Solheim Cup stars and home favourites will tee it up at this week’s AIG Women’s Open at Royal Troon.
Contested over the famous Ayrshire links from 20-23 August, 144 players representing 32 countries have assembled for the first women’s Major Championship of the year.
Played safely without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic, television pictures will be broadcast globally to more than 11 million fans as the international field seek to emulate last year’s champion, Hinako Shibuno.
The Japanese player, who enjoyed a fairy-tale win at Woburn having never previously played a tournament outside of her homeland, will look to quickly bounce back from her missed cut at last week’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open at The Renaissance.
It was there where Stacy Lewis emerged victorious on Sunday after a four-way play-off, with the 2013 Women’s Open champion among 40 Americans chasing more success on the west coast this week, including world number two Danielle Kang and world number three Nelly Korda.
Inbee Park from Korea is a past winner – triumphing further down the coast at Turnberry in 2015 – and will be aiming to add to her haul of seven Major titles.
With the forecast for strong winds and rain forecast this week, home players will hope to use that to their advantage. The 2018 champion, Georgia Hall, will seek to rekindle her love for the event, with the 24- year-old one of 13 English players in the field.
In the absence of a qualifying tournament, 22 qualifiers representing 12 countries secured their place at The Renaissance last week for the AIG Women’s Open, including Scottish hopefuls Kylie Henry and Michele Thomson.
David Rickman, The R&A’s Executive Director – Governance and Chief Referee at the AIG Women’s Open, said, “It is a very impressive international field and we are delighted so many players have travelled so far to join us.
“Royal Troon is one of our classic links courses, presented in wonderful condition. Certainly, the forecast looks as though it is going to give a real links challenge where the elements are likely to play a significant part in proceedings.”
Dame Laura Davies has the honour of striking the opening tee shot on Thursday morning at 6.30am, with the 1986 Women’s Open champion paired with Northern Irish amateur Olivia Mehaffey and Canadian Alena Sharp.
Shibuno starts her defence at 12.49pm, in the company of world number seven Brooke Henderson (Canada) and South African Ashleigh Buhai. Hall is also in a standout group, joined by Nelly Korda and Nasa Hataoka (Japan) at 8.09am for their opening round.
Royal Troon is staging the AIG Women’s Open for the first time, with the world-renowned links set to provide a wonderful test.
Drama is sure to unfold at one of the most famous holes in golf, the short par-3 8th, the ‘Postage Stamp’. Only 114 yards long, but a test for the very best due to the small target.
The back nine typically plays into the wind and offers a formidable challenge, including the 11th, ‘Railway’, a demanding par-4 of 421 yards with out-of-bounds on the right. The 16th offers a birdie opportunity, a par-5 of 533 yards, although the burn running across the fairway is to be avoided.
Rickman added, “I think one of the beauties of Royal Troon is that it presents some wonderful holes, like the Postage Stamp. With a nice shot you can make a birdie yet missing the green can lead to almost anything.”
The AIG Women’s Open is making its debut on the prestigious links of Royal Troon, which has hosted The Open on nine occasions and most recently in 2016 when Sweden’s Henrik Stenson triumphed. It has also hosted The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex, The Amateur Championship, the Women’s Amateur Championship, The Home Internationals and the Scottish Men’s and Women’s Amateur Championship.