From left to right: Bryce McCulloch, Piper at Trump Turnberry Resort, Lydia Ko, Paula Creamer, Charley Hull, Defending Champion Mo Martin, Shanshan Feng, Catriona Matthew, Laura Davies and Michelle Wie
The official Ricoh Women’s British Open photo call took place today in front of the iconic lighthouse on the Ailsa Course ahead of the 39th Championship, starting Thursday 30th July.
All of the world’s top 20 ranked players are in the field which includes 23 Major winners boasting 51 Major titles with 25 nationalities represented.
Australian Karrie Webb won the historic championship on the famous links in 2002, but another Ladies European Tour champion set the course alight with perhaps an even more significant win in 2005. Aged just nine, Charley Hull won a play-off against a woman 35 years her senior to take the Health Perception LGU Championship.
In driving winds and persistent rain, the Kettering youngster proved too strong for 44-year-old Janice Cloran from Manchester on the second extra hole of sudden death. Even before the play-off, Charley had played some amazing golf get into the Grand Final. Some 24,000 golfers from 1,200 clubs around the country were hoping to qualify for Turnberry, with Charley winning her regional qualifier by four shots.
Ten years on, the 2013 European Solheim Cup team winner can just about remember that telling day. She said: “I can’t really remember the golf course but I was nine years old. I remember it being really windy. The only thing about the golf course that I remember is that I got blown over on one of the tee boxes and dad had to pick me up.
“It was like 55-mile-per-hour gusts and winds. It was pretty strong and I was pretty light back then. It was quite a big event to win at nine years old.”
Charley is especially keen to do well at Turnberry having contended for the 2014 championship at Royal Birkdale. With rounds of 73, 76, 66 and 78, the 2013 Ladies European Tour rookie of the year finished tied for 12th and commented: “I didn’t finish off on the last day. I think my putting let me down but now I’ve got that sussed.”
There is no doubt that the Ricoh Women’s British Open is the title that Hull really wants and she added: “Majors are something special.”
One player tackling the Ailsa course for the first time will be the defending champion, Mo Martin, who recorded her first victory in the 2014 Ricoh Women’s British Open. The United States player hit the best shot of her life using a 3-wood to six feet from the cup setting up an eagle on the par-5 18th at Royal Birkdale, which saw her finish on one under par.
The stunning location of the Ailsa course makes it one of the most scenic and recognisable golf destinations in the world. The iconic lighthouse, located close to the ninth hole on the Ayrshire coast, stands on what was once the moat of Turnberry Castle, thought to be the birthplace of Robert the Bruce in 1274 and the first light beamed across the waters in 1878.
A top quality links, the Ailsa course has hosted The Open Championship on four occasions. It was the scene of the ‘Duel in the Sun’ between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson in 1977, with Watson eventually finishing a shot clear of his rival. Greg Norman won The Open here in 1986, followed by Nick Price in 1994 and most recently Stewart Cink in 2009.
Thanks to a 10-year investment by EventScotland, this is the third time that the Ricoh Women’s British Open has been played in Scotland in five years after Carnoustie in 2011 and St Andrews in 2013. It will be played in the Home of Golf every second year until 2019 and Paul Bush, chief operating officer of EventScotland commented: “It has long been our desire to see the Ricoh Women’s British Open Championship played on some of Scotland’s best and most iconic courses and Turnberry undoubtedly falls into that category. Scotland is the Home of Golf and it is fitting that one of the most prestigious titles in women’s golf will return again in 2015, allowing us to showcase our unrivalled golf tourism credentials to the world.”
Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council, said: “South Ayrshire has a unique and historic place on the international golfing map with two current Open Championship courses, as well as being the home of Open Championship golf, having staged the first ever event at Prestwick in 1860.”