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Minjee Lee heads Australian chances at Women's British Open

The famed Royal Lytham & St Annes (Photo: Ladies European Tour )
The Ricoh Women’s British Open returns this week to Royal Lytham & St Annes in Lancashire for the first time since Catriona Matthew’s win there in 2009 and for the fifth time in the event’s history.

Australian hopes likely rest with the very much in form Minjee Lee who last week finished runner-up to Ariya Jutanugarn in Scotland although Karrie Webb kept alive her hopes of a 4th Women’s British Open title with a very impressive 11th place finish last week.

Webb finished runner-up to Matthew at this venue in 2009 adding to her chances of perhaps contending although having missed four of her last five cuts in this event she will be keen to continue the form she displayed at the Gullane Golf Club last week.  

Lee just keeps getting better and surely that first major title is not far away. With a best of 9th and two missed cuts in four starts at the WBO then Lee has hardly starred in the event, but she showed last week that links golf holds no real fears for her and she is certainly the most likely of the Australians.

Lee has been superb in 2018 having won one title, been twice runner-up and once third taking her to 3rd on the money list behind Ariya Jutanugarn and Nasa Hataoka and to number two in the Race to the Globe Rankings. She appears well placed to contend for her first major title this week.

The last few weeks have seen a loss of form for Su Oh and with a best of 30th in four starts at the WBO then not a lot is expected of her. She struck a patch of form a few weeks ago that had her in the hunt on a regular basis but if she is to improve on her previous best which came at Kingsbarns last year then she will need to turn things around.

Katherine Kirk finished runner-up to Yani Tseng at nearby Royal Birkdale in 2010 but that aside there have been no other top twenties in the event. Her season to date has been a less than memorable one so her chances of emulating or even going close to that outstanding effort eight years ago seem slim.

Sarah Jane Smith had her best finish in this event two years ago at the inland layout of Woburn but on the links layouts used for this venue in more recent years she has struggled with a best of 43rd in six other starts.

Smith has played very well in two of the three majors thus far in 2018 including when 5th at the US Women’s Open but a repeat performance appears unlikely this week.

LPGA Tour rookies Rebecca Artis and Hannah Green get their chance as does Sarah Kemp who now plays the Ladies European Tour after many years on the LPGA Tour.

Kemp’s form has improved since returning to Europe but has had little in the way of luck in this event missing five of seven cuts with a best of 58th in the other two.   

Of the more fancied players the Australian Open Champion Jin Young Ko stands out as a likely challenger to new world number one, Ariya Jutanugarn.

Ko finished runner-up at her only start at the WBO in 2015 and has developed into one of the game’s best with nine top tens in 2018 including her win in Adelaide and he runner-up finish in Los Angeles.

She was also 3rd last week in Scotland so it appears that links golf is of no concern to her and her chances appear good.

Jutanugarn certainly deserves respect especially after her breakthrough links victory in Scotland last week and after several unsuccessful attempts at this style golf had proved fruitless in the past then perhaps she can repeat.




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