Carnoustie’s famed finishing hole- Photo by Mark Runnacles/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)
The golfing world’s final major of 2021 is played this week when the LPGA and Ladies European Tours join forces for the staging of the AIG Women’s British Open at the demanding Carnoustie in Fife in Scotland.
Carnoustie will play host to the event for the second occasion, ten years after the first, when, in 2011, Yani Tseng continued her then domination of women’s golf with a four-shot victory over Brittany Lang to successfully defend the title she won twelve months earlier at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Carnoustie is one of the truly great tests amongst the Open Championship rota but in relatively calm conditions in 2011, Tseng recorded a score of 16 under par. If Carnoustie bares her teeth as a result of even a gentle breeze, however, she can be one of the most testing of the Open Championship layouts.
Eight Australians and one New Zealander will face the starter on Thursday morning in Scotland, New Zealand’s Lydia Ko the highest ranked of them following her runner-up finish at last week’s Scottish Open and her bronze medal effort at the Olympics.
Ko’s record at the British Open is a little disappointing for one of her credentials with only one top ten in nine starts but her current form is as good as it has been for some time and she will start as one of the favourites.
Minjee Lee is the latest major championship winner in women’s golf having won the Evian Championship on the very park-like layout at Evian les Baines. Carnoustie is a very much different proposition, but she has performed well in the event in recent years, more especially when 3rd last year behind Sophia Popov.
Lee has though disappointed in her two starts since the Evian Championship finishing well back in Tokyo and missing the cut last week at the nearby Scottish Open.
Hannah Green was very much in the mix for a medal at the Olympics before finishing 5th but, like Lee, she too would miss the cut at the Scottish Open.
Katherine Kirk has played well in this event on occasions including when runner-up in 2010 but she has yet to record even a top twenty in 2021 and despite her considerable experience (12 previous starts) in the event it is hard to see her performing well.
Sarah Kemp is having a very good 2021 but her record in ten starts at the British Open has been poor with just three cuts made in ten starts and a best of 58th in the other three.
Three top tens in 2021 highlights a lot of improvement in the New South Wales golfer’s game but it is hard to get excited about her chances this week.
New South Wales’, Stephanie Kyriacou, plays her second British Open having finished 78th on debut last year. She is one of Australia’s most exciting prospects, however, and in 2021 she has won for the first time as a professional on the Ladies European Tour.
In two starts against the stronger LPGA Tour fields in 2021, Kyriacou has struggled but there is little doubting her significant talent and she could well have a very good week.
Victorian, Su Oh, has made a lot of cuts in 2021 and will start this event for the eighth time. She has a best of 15th in 2018 and given that she has yet to contend in an event in 2021 her chances of a good week look slim.
Whitney Hillier has battled away on the Ladies European Tour in 2021 although she indicated with a top 15 finish at the Scottish Open last week that things might be about to get better.
Hillier has though missed all four cuts in this event, and she will need to build on her effort last week if she is to make it to the weekend at Carnoustie.
West Australian amateur Kirsten Rudgeley played her way into the event via final qualifying, an achievement in itself and she gets her chance in an LPGA Tour event for the first time. Just being in the field is a great effort for the Mt Lawley golfer and a great opportunity to litmus test her game against this strong field.
As usual it appears Lydia Ko and Minjee Lee carry most Australasian hopes although Hannah Green is another who might challenge at various stages.