Altvater: Reasons to watch Ricoh Women’s British Open this weekWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
The best women golfers from around the world will descend on Royal Birkdale this week for the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
The first Women’s British Open was held in 1976 at Fulford Golf Club, but in the early years of the tournament the women found it difficult to get access to the best courses in Scotland and England. That has changed and the Ricoh Women’s British Open now includes stops at St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Liverpool, Turnberry and Royal Lytham.
Betsy King, Patty Sheehan, Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak, Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa are just a few of the names of past winners of the Women’s British Open.
Here are some reasons you may want to set your DVR to catch all of the exciting golf action from Royal Birkdale this week.
- Ricoh Women’s British Open offers a huge purse.
The Ricoh Women’s British Open offers a total purse of $3 million with $450,000 going to the winner. The average LPGA Tour purse is normally half that amount and the first-place check is $180,000-$200,000.
A win will give any woman a big boost on the LPGA and Ladies European Tour’s (LET) money list.
- Ricoh Women’s British Open is a major tournament
The Ricoh Women’s British Open is a major tournament sanctioned by both the LET and the LPGA. Women must qualify to gain entry and only the best women golfers in the world will be in the field.
Two women’s majors have already been contested this season with Lexi Thompson winning the Kraft Nabisco and Michelle Wie winning the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst last month.
- Lydia Ko is seeking her first major title
Teenage sensation and LPGA Tour rookie Lydia Ko has three LPGA Tour titles on her resume and one LET victory, but she has yet to win a major championship.
She finished runner-up last year at the Evian Championship, while still an amateur.
Even at the age of 17, she has the game and the temperament to win a major.
Look for her to be a factor on Sunday afternoon at Royal Birkdale.
- Ricoh Women’s British Open is a preview for the men’s Open Championship next week.
The men’s Open Championship will be held next week at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake. It is the oldest major championship in the world and draws a field that includes golfers from around the globe.
Royal Birkdale is only 28 miles north of Royal Liverpool on the western coast of the United Kingdom. Golf fans will get a rare treat to view two of the world’s premier links golf courses over the next two weeks.
- Royal Birkdale has a storied history.
Royal Birkdale was founded in 1889 and has hosted nine men’s Open Championships, plus the Women’s British Open on five previous occasions.
It has also hosted two Ryder Cups and a Walker Cup as well as the Curtis Cup.
The women will be trying to add their name to the distinguished list of men that have won the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. Peter Thompson, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson, Ian Baker Finch, Mark O’Meara and Padraig Harrington all won Open Championships here.
- Lexi Thompson will be trying to win a second major championship.
Lexi Thompson is just 19 years old and won her first major championship at the Kraft Nabisco in March. This is her third full season on the LPGA Tour and her length off the tee coupled with accurate iron shots always make her a favorite to win.
- Royal Birkdale will show fans true links golf.
Americans are only exposed to true links golf once every year when the Open Championship is held.
True links golf courses were constructed on land that was unsuitable for farming purposes and connected the arable land to the sea. Rolling sand dunes, windy conditions and firm fairways promote a game played more along the ground, rather than through the air, like many American golf courses.
- Michelle Wie will be looking to add another major title.
Michelle Wie is the No. 6 ranked player on the Rolex Rankings right now, but is No. 2 behind Stacy Lewis on the LPGA Tour money list and Race to the CME Globe.
She won earlier in the year at the LPGA Lotte Championship and added her first major title at the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst three weeks ago.
She has 10 top-10 finishes this season and is fulfilling the potential that golf fans have been yearning to see from her for several years.
- Toledo-born Stacy Lewis is the defending champion.
Stacy Lewis was the No. 2 ranked woman in the world behind Inbee Park last year when she won at St. Andrews. Lewis is now the No. 1 woman in the world and is dominating the LPGA Tour with three wins and 13 top-10 finishes.
She is coming off a runner-up to Wie at the U.S. Women’s Open and a win at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
She is playing with supreme confidence and there is no weakness in her game.
If she can figure out the swirling winds at Royal Birkdale, she will be among the leaders on Sunday.
These are just a few of the many reasons why the Ricoh Women’s British Open is must-watch television for golf fans.
All four rounds of the Ricoh Women’s British Open will be carried live on ESPN2 9 a.m. to noon Thursday-Sunday.
This article also posted to eDraft.com/golf
Tags: Annika Sorenstam, Betsy King, Fred Altvater, Karrie Webb, Ladies European Tour, Lexi Thompson, links golf, Lorena Ochoa, LPGA Tour, Lydia Ko, Michelle Wie, Patty Sheehan, Ricoh Women's British Open, Royal Birkdale, Se Ri Pak, Stacy Lewis, The Back Nine