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Australians hold hope at Ricoh Women's British Open

Webb has found form again ahead of one of her favourite events. (Photo: Henry Peters )
The Ricoh Women’s British Open is an event that has always been good to Australians even well before it became the event with the standing it enjoys today.

In the last 30 years, Australians have won Britain’s most significant women’s title five times and on five other occasions have been runner-up.

Like Peter Thomson in the men’s equivalent, one player has essentially dominated the Australian efforts at the Women’s British Open.

Three of those victories and one of the runner-up finishes have been recorded by arguably Australia’s greatest ever golfer, Karrie Webb.

The 7-time major winner shares the record as holding the most Ricoh Women’s British Open titles with American Sherri Steinhauer.

It has, though, been 15 years since Webb won the last of her three titles when defeating fellow Australian Michelle Ellis and Spaniard Paula Marti in 2002.

But despite it being 22 years since her first win in 1995, Webb takes her place in this week’s field at Kingsbarns Golf Links near St Andrews in Scotland as a genuine chance to add a 4th Women’s British Open and 8th major to her brilliant resume.

Webb is one of seven Australians who will tee it up at Kingsbarns, which is being used for the first time for this event but which has been a co-host for the men's European Tour's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in recent years. 

The former World Number One finished an impressive but perhaps disappointing runner-up at last week’s Ladies Scottish Open and displayed once again her liking for links golf and its suitability for her style of play despite her early golfing skills being honed in the very contrasting environment of North Queensland.

Webb stumbled at the 71st hole last week but played beautifully all week until the late double bogey cost her a chance at a 42nd LPGA Tour title.

For so long Australia’s leading female golfer until overtaken in terms of ranking by Minjee Lee, Webb has battled with form for much of the past year but she still possesses one of the great swings in the game and that she was able to contend for so long last week after being so long out of contention bears testament to the class of the 42-year old.

Lee herself played well last week and must surely be closing in on her first major title after three wins on the LPGA Tour and countless significant titles as an amateur.

The 21-year-old will play her fourth Women’s British Open, has a best of 9th in those three attempts and has been building momentum in recent starts and is, therefore, a great chance to better her previous best behind Inbee Park at Turnberry in 2015.

Katherine Kirk returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in seven years when successful at the recent Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic but her form in 2017 has been volatile and since her win she has again battled to get close to contention.

Kirk finished one shot behind Yani Tseng in 2010 at Royal Birkdale but her consistency since her win in Wisconsin is a concern.

Su Oh will play her fourth Women’s British Open, making the cut in two although finishing well back on each of those occasions.

Oh has played a little better of late after struggling early in the season but she will need further improvement to contend at Kingsbarns. 

Sarah Jane Smith began the season well enough but in recent starts her form appears to have dropped off and she arrives at her 7th British Women’s Open well below her best.

Whitney Hillier and Stacey Peters are the only Australians in this week’s field who play the Ladies European Tour only.

26-year-old Western Australian Hillier is having her best season and is currently 8th on the LET money list in 2017. This will be just Hillier’s second time at the event having missed the cut on debut in 2013.

Victorian Peters, a two-time Ladies European Tour winner, was one of 22 qualifiers at Final Qualifying on Monday at the Castle Course in St Andrews and, although the she has not enjoyed a good season to date, to have made it into the field through the tough qualifying process is an achievement in itself.

This will be Peters' 7th Women's British Open appearance, but having made it to the weekend only once, she will be keen to improve on that record.     







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