England Golf and Golf Foundation ambassador, Emma Anderson, had the opportunity to join the LET Team in the Ricoh Women’s British Open on Tuesday. Here she reflects on her day playing with Jodi Ewart-Shadoff at Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club and why she believes she could have a strong chance on Sunday.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of playing with Solheim Cup star Jodi Ewart-Shadoff in the Ricoh Women’s British Open Pro-Am. It was my first time playing at Royal Lytham and St Annes – and Jodi was in the same boat.
“I’ve played virtually every other course in the area!” she said when discussing how comfortable she was with the style of course. It was evident from her play during the Pro-Am how comfortable she was, plotting her way round the course as if she had played it hundreds of times. On a course with 167 bunkers, and deep ones at that, hitting fairways and greens is going to be more crucial than ever this Championship, something of which Ewart-Shadoff is very mindful. “This week you definitely have to stay away from the bunkers,” responded Jodi, when I asked what would separate the winners from the rest of the field, before adding “putting, as always”.
Looking to go one better than her 2nd place finish last year at Kingsbarns, Jodi certainly looks confident. However, the beauty of links golf and the winds that come with it is the unpredictability it brings. “You have to be really creative round here” said Jodi when talking about her first experience at this year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open venue. While the Briton stayed on the fairways and greens for the majority of the round, the other three of us in the group certainly discovered what she meant. Errant shots that ended up in less than perfect positions left us some interesting challenges, and a little imagination was the only way to recover from mistakes.
One of our playing partners, a member at nearby St Anne’s Old Links, has caddied for the top Amateurs and Professionals around Royal Lytham and St Annes many times and knows the demands of the course better than most. “These players have so many shots they are capable of playing. While us amateurs have a couple of options, thanks to their abilities these girls have so many more they are able to use.” This is one of the joys of watching links golf, observing as the best players in the world adapt their games to challenges that many of them are simply not used to.
Born in North Yorkshire, Ewart-Shadoff now lives in the United States. Discussing her decision to move to the other side of the pond, Jodi laughed that practicing in the winter months is much more enjoyable in the Orlando weather than her native Northallerton. Although this week she is enjoying her return to the UK and the cooler temperatures: “It’s 100 degrees out there!” For the English player it works perfectly, giving her a warm climate in which to practice during the winter months, and her summer schedule bringing her back to Europe after spending much of the season playing on the LPGA Tour.
Solheim Cup headcovers still adorn Jodi’s fairway woods, and you can tell how much her two Solheim Cup experiences mean to her. Conversation soon turned to last year’s contest at De Moines and Ewart-Shadoff still seemed to be in disbelief at the number of Europeans who made the trip. “It was in the middle of nowhere!” The former University of New Mexico player centres much of her Ladies European Tour schedule around qualification for the biannual event and you can be sure that being at Gleneagles when the team competition returns to this continent next September is high on her agenda.
In the Pro-Am, our team ended up mid-table, respectable but not spectacular. Jodi was a pleasure to play with and to watch her plot her way around an unfamiliar course left us all in awe of her abilities and gave a real insight into importance of the caddie-player relationship. While Ewart-Shadoff and her caddie Shane Codd have only been working together since earlier this year, it is clear that everything he has learnt from his 15 years of caddying on the Ladies European Tour is benefitting his player. All this experience is going to be crucial if Jodi is going to walk away from this week as the Ricoh Women’s British Open champion. But if the pair’s relaxed but assured attitude to yesterday’s round is anything to go by, Jodi Ewart-Shadoff has every chance of becoming a Major champion.