|World Number One, Inbee Park|
World Number One, Inbee Park has been simply unstoppable so far this year and she now heads to the 2013 Ricoh Women’s British Open in St Andrews, Scotland, 1 – 4 August, hoping to become the first golfer of either gender to win four Majors in one season.
Entries have now closed for the prestigious Championship and, with qualifying events still to come, Park heads a field that already boasts an impressive 23 Major Champions who have won 51 Majors between them. Of the 144-player field, 121 players from 22 countries have already qualified and include the world’s top 32 ranked players on the Rolex Rankings.
Pre qualifying for the Ricoh Women’s British Open is on the 15th July at the Berkshire Golf Club and has attracted the second highest number of entries ever recorded for the Championship while final qualifying will take place at Kingsbarns on the 29th July.
Park has won 5 of the 14 LPGA tournaments played this season and all three Majors. She is only the second person in history to win the first three Majors of the year and all eyes will be on her when she tees it up. While the famous Old Course will present a very different challenge to the courses Park has triumphed on so far this year, her second place finish behind Jiyai Shin at last year’s Championship at Royal Liverpool demonstrates that links golf holds no fear for the talented young South Korean.
Ricoh Ambassador and 2010 US Open Champion Paula Creamer is full of admiration for all Park has achieved but at the same time, determined to add to her own Major tally. Creamer, who finished tied fourth at last week’s US Open, said, “Inbee has played very well so far this year and I congratulate her on all she has achieved. I can only imagine how special it would be for her to win a fourth Major at St Andrews but I will be doing all I can to stop her. I think it is time she gave someone else a turn!”
Creamer continued, “I love links golf and returning to play at the Old Course is something I have been looking forward to since I left St Andrews in 2007. I have had four top ten finishes in the Ricoh Women’s British Open so I know that if I can put myself in the mix on Sunday afternoon, I would have a great chance. My game is really coming together at just the right time – I cannot think of anything I would like more than to win the Ricoh Women’s British Open at the Home of Golf.”
Norway’s Suzann Pettersen has finished tied third in two of this year’s Majors and won the LPGA LOTTE Championship in Hawaii in April. She said “I think what Inbee has done this year is absolutely remarkable but to win all four would just be plain greedy!! I haven’t won a Major since 2007 and what better place to win my second Major than at St Andrews. Ever since it was announced we were going back there this year I have been dreaming about it and while any Major win would obviously be fantastic, I can’t help thinking that the feeling of winning the British Open on the Old Course would be pretty difficult to beat.”
Scotland’s Catriona Matthew, the 2009 Ricoh Women’s British Open Champion, has been in fine Major form this season posting a seventh place finish at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, second in the LPGA Wegmans Championship and 15th in the US Open. Matthew commented, “I have been pretty consistent in the Majors this year but I will definitely be hoping to do that wee bit better at St Andrews. Inbee has been unstoppable in the Majors this year but hopefully, playing in front of my home fans will give me a slight advantage.”
This year the Championship Committee has awarded special exemptions to two Swedish former Champions, Helen Alfredsson (1990) and Sophie Gustafson. (2000)
Last year the Championship was held at Royal Liverpool Golf Club for the first time and, with the field including 27 nationalities and 20 Major Champions boasting 41 Major Championships between them, South Korea’s Jiyai Shin won her second Ricoh Women’s British Open title. Her first victory came at Sunningdale in 2008.
The return to St Andrews has been much anticipated by players and spectators alike and defending Champion, Jiyai Shin has already confirmed she will be in Scotland, looking to claim her third Championship. In 2007 the Ricoh Women’s British Open made history as the first ladies professional tournament to be played on the Old Course and was won by crowd favourite and then World No.1, Lorena Ochoa. This year fans will again be able to watch the BBC’s extensive live coverage of the Ricoh Women’s British Open in HD (high definition) on all fours days of the Championship, underlining the significance of the event in the BBC’s sports portfolio.
The Ricoh Women’s British Open was founded by the LGU in 1976 and is staged in conjunction with IMG, the world’s largest sports marketing company. The event has been co-sanctioned by the LPGA and LET since 1994 and gained Major status in 2001.
Ricoh, the leading technology provider of Managed Document Services and Production Printing, has been the title sponsor of the Ricoh Women’s British Open since 2007.