Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow, the young rookie who splashed big with a third place finish at the US Women’s Open a couple of weeks ago — her pro debut — has her sights set now on qualifying for the LPGA/LET co-sanctioned RICOH Women’s British Open, which will be played this year at Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport, England, beginning Thursday, July 10. She’s entered in the Final Qualifying at Southport & Ainsdale Golf Club on Monday July 7.
Scrambling to Qualify
Meadow is joined in the Southport & Ainsdale field by veteran Swede, Sophie Gustafson, who won the Championship at Royal Birkdale back in 2000 and who has finished runner-up on three other occasions between 1998 and 2006.
There are around 14 places up for grabs at Southport & Ainsdale and another favorite to progress is 2000 and 2002 Ladies British Amateur champion, Rebecca Hudson, who travels to the north west fresh from a third place finish behind Florentyna Parker and Holly Clyburn at the recent Italian Ladies Championship at Perugia.
In the Field at Royal Birkdale
World No. 1 Minjee Lee and No. 5, Su-Hyun Oh, both from from Australia, 2013 US Women’s Amateur champion and Meadow’s teammate at the University of Alabama Emma Talley and English world No. 20, Annabel Dimmock, are exempt from Final Qualifying.
The Pre-Qualifying event was won by Welsh former Solheim Cup player, Becky Brewerton, who carded a four under par 66 to finish one shot ahead of compatriot Amy Boulden, South Africa’s Nicole Garcia, Italy’s Sophie Sandolo, America’s Kim Welch and leading amateur, Essex county player Dulcie Sverdloff.
Two other amateurs, Hally Leadbetter, daughter of famous golf coach David, and reigning Irish Women’s Open Amateur Stroke Play champion, Lucy Goddard, shared seventh place with Scotland’s Laura Murray and Veronika Falathova while Israeli, Laetitia Beck, the leading qualifier at last week’s Ladies British Open Amateur Championship, and English amateur, Bethany Garton, qualified in the group on one under par 71 alongside Caroline Martens, Karen Davies, Sarah Attwood, Henrietta Zuel and Lucy Williams.
The last of the qualifiers were Jane Turner, Hermione Fitzgerald, Smriti Mehra, Virginia Espejo-Saavedra and amateur trio Emma Goddard, Sarah-Jane Boyd and Sophie Madden who made it through on level par 70.
World ranked No. 1, Stacy Lewis, is the defending champion at the RICOH Women’s British Open. Lewis is coming in to the Open with three 2014 victories and ten additional top-10s, four of them runner-up finishes.
This year’s Championship marks the sixth time that Royal Birkdale has hosted the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Marta Figueras-Dotti claimed the coveted title the first time the Championship was staged there in 1982. Dame Laura Davies was the champion at Royal Birkdale in 1986 and she was followed into the club’s winners’ circle by Gustafson (2000), Korea’s Jeong Jang (2005) and Yani Tseng (2010).
American fans will be able to follow the Open through daily television coverage by ESPN, 9am-12 noon, ET. My colleagues and I at ProGolfNow will also provide ongoing commentary and updates on the Open.