One of golf’s grandest homes will play host to the world’s top ladies for this week’s RICOH Women’s British Open. Royal Liverpool Golf Club, also tabbed as Hoylake, will be the site as Yani Tseng will look to defend her championship. Tseng has won the last two RICOH’s and will look to add a third straight.
But the Yani Tseng of 2012 is not the Yani Tseng of 2012. In some people’s minds, Tseng is struggling this year. She still holds the top spot in the Rolex Rankings. She owns three wins in 2012 (Honda LPGA Thailand, RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, and Kia Classic), but none since late March. Tseng also owns three MC’s. She also hasn’t played in an LPGA event since late August when she finished T35 at the CN Canadian Women’s Open.
That’s not to say Yani can’t flip a switch this week considering her success in this event. In the last four, Tseng has finished in the top 20 every time (2 wins, one 2nd place finish). Oh, and these are the only four times she has competed in the Women’s British Open, too.
Closing in on Tseng is Rolex #2 Stacy Lewis. With Yani not playing last week at Kingsmill, it was chance for Lewis to close even more ground in the rankings. Didn’t materialize quite to the extent some may have thought. Lewis did gain ground after her T9 performance, but it could have gone just a little better. A final round even-par 71 prevented Lewis from receiving even more points. The ground made up was due to Tseng losing points rather than Lewis gaining.
Lewis does hold a 28-point lead over Tseng in the Rolex Player of the Year standings even though she own one less win compared to Tseng. Lewis has only 1 MC in 2012 (LPGA Lotte).
Rolex #3 Na Yeon Choi has a major win this year and claiming this week’s top honors would see her cut into not only Tseng’s lead in the rankings, but Lewis and her lead in the Rolex POY standings. Choi is fractions behind Lewis in the Rolex Rankings (only 0.02 average points behind), and a win would most likely provide enough points to surpass Lewis and become #2. Choi has made all cuts this year. Well, there was a mishap when Choi was DQ’d at the Wegmans LPGA due to not signing her scorecard after her final round.
And Choi has a decent history at the RICOH. Her worst finish is T21 back in 2008. Since then, she has finishes of T8, T3, T7.
Are there any other contenders? You bet…
I have said for the past handful of years that if I wanted any scenario dealing with match play (and I completely realize this isn’t) I want Catriona Matthew on my side. I don’t care what venue. I don’t care what time. She’s a pick I’ll always make. Plus, Matthew’s won this event before (2009). What makes Matthew’s 2009 win more astounding is that she did so 11 weeks after giving birth to her second daughter.
While it was nice to see Jiyai Shin end a two-year winless streak on a Monday, one-hole deal (that was actually nine holes over a two-day period) to capture the Kingsmill Championship, Shin has also won the Women’s British Open (2008). Yes, she’s had less time to prepare getting over to Liverpool a day later (or even longer) than the other players, but I can never discount her grit. She showed such last weekend as she meticulously pulled off the win.
The win also propelled Shin into the #10 spot in the Rolex Rankings.
What may be the overall story for this event is the weather. Wait. Isn’t the weather usually the story? Forecasts call for rain on two of the four days including the final round. The first two days show winds in the 18-22 MPH range. Saturday appears to be the day to make any move. It’s called moving day for a reason, right? That is the day where the weather is currently predicted to be at its most benign: partly cloudy, wind at about 8 MPH and a high of roughly 62 degrees F.
ESPN2 and ABC will host the coverage for you. Starting Thursday at 9 AM ET, ESPN2, ESPN3 and WatchESPN is where it all begins. For all four rounds, the slated times of 9 AM – noon ET. IF you are unable to get to your TV or computer, the WatchESPN app for your smartphone or tablet will be accessible to fans who receive their video service from an affiliated provider. Check here to see if you do.