Melissa Reid tees off on the Old Course at St Andrews on Monday, 22nd April, 2013

England’s Melissa Reid launched the countdown to the 2013 Ricoh Women’s British Open when she teed off on the Old Course marking the Championship’s return to St Andrews, Scotland, from 1st to 4th August.

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. The return to St Andrews has been much anticipated by players and spectators alike and Reid enjoyed her sneak preview of the famous Old Course.

She explained, “I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to get an early feel for the course and I am really excited about playing here in August. I came here as an amateur in 2007 and finished T16th so I have amazing memories of competing here and they all came flooding back today. The Ricoh Women’s British Open is always played on fantastic courses but there is no doubt that all the players are thrilled to be returning to St Andrews this year. You can’t help but feel inspired by history of the course and the very unique atmosphere around St Andrews.”

Last year the Championship was hosted 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 Defending Champion earlier explained, “I loved visiting St Andrews in 2007 but at the time I wasn’t very experienced in playing links golf so this time I think I will have a much better chance. Each year I have learnt so much about playing on links courses and, at Hoylake, I managed to put everything into practice to achieve such a special win. I hope I can do the same this year as I think winning a Major on the Old Course might be the very best thing you can experience in golf.”

Shona Malcolm, the LGU’s CEO said, “The 2007 Championship was an unprecedented success and we have all been looking forward to the second edition to be held here at the Old Course. We have many of Britain’s best courses on our Championship rotation and we are delighted to once again be so warmly welcomed by the St Andrews Links Trust for what I believe will be another wonderful Championship.”

Guy Kinnings, Global Managing Director, IMG Golf, added, ‘The Ricoh Women’s British Open is one of the highlights of the global golf schedule. IMG are delighted and proud to be part of the Championship and with our partners the LGU and Ricoh and the sanctioning Tours the LPGA and Ladies European Tour. This will mark the seventh year of Ricoh’s title sponsorship and we are very grateful for their wholehearted support and commitment to growing this great Championship year on year.”

Simon Sasaki, Corporate Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, Ricoh Company, Ltd. explained, “We begun our relationship with the Ricoh Women’s British Open here at St Andrews in 2007 and, having announced last year that we are extending our sponsorship to at least 2016, it is wonderful to return to the Home of Golf to celebrate this wonderful relationship.”

Mr Sasaki added, “Together with the LGU, IMG, the LPGA and Ladies European Tour we look forward to this year’s Championship and the years ahead as we aim to further develop and enhance this great tournament in-keeping with our corporate tagline, imagine. change.”

Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland added, “Scotland is the home of golf and we are delighted to welcome back the Ricoh Women’s British Open to St Andrews this year. This is the second hosting of the tournament as part of our 10 year agreement to bring the world’s top women golfers to Scotland every other year, and it is one of seven leading golf events taking place in Scotland in 2013. The championship at Carnoustie in 2011 was a huge success and I am sure we will build on that and previous editions at the Old Course in August.”

The Championship Committee also today announced two significant new partners at the 2013 Championship. Edinburgh Audi, part of the Lomond Group, are confirmed as the Official Car for the Championship and will provide vehicles for the Championship Courtesy Car service. Established in 1998 the Lomond Group are now one of Europe’s largest Audi dealers, with showrooms in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling and Ayr. The Lomond Group employs over 350 highly experienced and dedicated staff who sell around 8,000 cars every year.

They are joined by Swinging Skirts, a private Taiwanese organization made up of both men and women amateur golfers. Its members are avid golfers and very good friends who wear skirts or kilts when they play. Their aim is to bring a fun atmosphere to the tradition that is golf. Their sponsorship of the Ricoh Women’s British Open complements their title sponsorship of the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters, launched in 2011 the tournament has become an official leg of both the Taiwan Ladies Professional Golf Association and the Korea Ladies Professional Golf Tour.

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.