The LET’s leading rookie Melissa Reid

Other home hopes for the championship include Rebecca Hudson, who recently won back-to-back titles on the Ladies European Tour, at the Tenerife and English Opens, ANZ Ladies Masters champion Lisa Hall, 69-time winner Laura Davies and Melissa Reid, who is the LET’s leading rookie.

Reid was the leading amateur at last year’s championship on the Old Course at St Andrews, where she shared 16th place and she qualified for this year’s event via the LET’s New Star Money List.

“I feel like I’ve progressed a lot in the past year. I’ve worked really hard and I can see the improvements already,” said the 20-year-old from Derbyshire, who has come close to her first professional victory on several occasions this year.

On the Old Course at Sunningdale, which is set up at 6408 yards for the championship, Reid said: “This is one of my favourite courses and it really does suit my eye. It’s in the best condition I’ve ever seen it in and it’s just looking absolutely superb.”

Reid will play with Stupples and Japan’s Yuki Baba at 11.59am in the first round. On playing in her first major championship since turning professional in December, she added: “I’m not here to make up the numbers; I’m here to win.”

World No.1 Lorena Ochoa of Mexico is the defending champion and will play with Japan’s Yuri Fudoh and Morgan Pressel of the USA at 7.14am in the first round.

Ochoa, who has already won six LPGA Tour events this year, including her second major championship at the Kraft Nabisco, was fourth when the event was played at Sunningdale four years ago. She is primed for a solid defense of her title. “I’m really excited right now. I’m very motivated and I would love to just have a great second part of the season,” Ochoa said.

Annika Sorenstam, who won the event once, in 2003, at Royal Lytham and St Annes, is hoping to earn an 11th major championship victory this week, before she steps away from competitive play at the end of the year.

“My expectations are always high. I believe in myself and I know I can play this golf course, but the competition is tough and you just don’t know,” she said. “I would love to win here. It’s the only major that I haven’t won two or three times, so you know, this could be if I could win here this week, then I would say I’ve pretty much achieved everything that I possibly can.”

Sorenstam will start her first round at 7.25am on Thursday and is playing alongside Japan’s Momoko Ueda and three-time Women’s British Open champion Karrie Webb of Australia. Webb, who is targeting a seventh major championship victory, won the event when it was played at Sunningdale in 1997.