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Women's British Open evenly matched

(Photo: Tristan Jones/LET)
The Royal Liverpool Golf Club (Hoylake) south of Liverpool on the Lancashire Coast of England plays host this week to the Ricoh Women's British Open for the first occasion.

The golf course, originally designed by Robert Chambers and George Morris, was first constructed in 1871 and in 1897 staged the first of ten Open Championships it would play host to up until and including the last in 1967.

Renovations by British architect Donald Steel included the rebuilding of several greens and the re- routing of one or two holes to better accommodate the requirements of the Open Championship and to provide a more balanced finish to the course.

In 2006 Tiger Woods won the third of his three Open Championship titles with a remarkable win under emotional circumstances following the death of his father a few months earlier.

This year it is the turn of ladies' golf to experience this high quality layout and although being played several weeks later than is normally the case for this event the venue is expected to attract large crowds and provide a great test of golf.

Three months ago Yani Tseng would have started as the raging hot favourite to win the title and defend the crown she won last year at Carnoustie and at Royal Birkdale in 2010.

Tseng has been so sadly out of form on late however she is hardly the logical choice any more although a slight improvement in her game of late might attract the Taiwanese star's share of admirers.

The favourtism therefore is likely to go to world number two Stacy Lewis although Lewis has not played particularly well at previous Open Championships. Lewis has been inside the top ten in each of her last two starts so is in good enough current form to do well.

Amy Yang might well be the surprise this week. She is the world number 7 admittedly but has yet to win an LPGA Tour event . Yang has played some of her best golf in Europe however and has been inside the top five in each of her last two starts in this event. If Yang was to breakthrough for her first LPGA Tour victory this week then it should not surprise many.

The Korean charge is headed by Na Yeon Choi and last week's winner and former British Open winner, Jiyai Shin. Shin won her first event in nearly two years when she defeated Paula Creamer in a playoff last Monday in Virginia but she has also been a model of consistency in terms of high finishes.

Choi has played well in this event in recent years and has played well in recent weeks. Her chances also look very good.

One of the most interesting players in the field is 15 year old New Zealander Lydia Ko. Following her victory at the Canadian Women's Open, her US Amateur victory and her leading amateur performance at the US Women's Open, Ko is now considered a genuine contender this week. The Ko legend is already growing rapidly. A victory this week would turn legend into folklore.

The Australians in the field are headed by three time winner Karrie Webb. Webb is joined by other exempted players Katherine Hull, Lindsey Wright, Sarah-Jane Smith, Karen Lunn, Rebecca Artis and Stacey Keating, all of whom qualified through their respective Tour's exemption categories. Joining them, after making it through the tough final qualifying on Monday are Stephanie Na, Rachel Bailey and Nikki Garrett.

Webb has slipped outside the top twenty in the world and other than a second place finish at the Evian Masters and a 6th place at the LPGA Championship, her season has been disappointing. She does enjoy British Open golf however and if she can find the form she is still capable of and put swing adjustment to one side then an eighth major championship title is not beyond her.

"I think my form is pretty decent," said Webb. "Some of my golf has shown me that I am close. I have done a lot of technical work this year to improve things so now it's a matter of putting that to one side for an entire tournament and letting it happen."

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