Weather a big factor at Women's British Open, says Richard Kaufman
Last Updated: 02/08/17 5:15pm
Richard Kaufman is predicting a "wide-open Open" as the world's best ladies do battle each other, and the weather, at Kingsbarns, where the fight for Solheim Cup places concludes.
This week marks the first Women's British Open live on Sky Sports and the first time the event has come to Kingsbarns Golf Links, and the television pictures should look stunning. The course has been used as part of the European Tour's Alfred Dunhill Links every year but, of course, it's the Old Course at St Andrews that takes centre stage there.
Kingsbarns features big, undulating greens and views pretty much everywhere of the North Sea coastline and, like any true links test, it will be weather dependent and the forecast suggests we could be in for a similar ride to what we treated to on the west coast of Scotland last week.
And we would happily welcome similar drama! After chipping in for eagle at 14, I thought Australian legend Karrie Webb was set for victory but, of course, golf is very rarely that simple. Mi Hyang Lee made sure her brilliance over the weekend was rewarded when Webb came unstuck and, for the third event in a row, a Korean player was lifting the silverware.
The Ricoh Women's British Open is the fourth major of the year and the stand-out three-ball goes off just after midday in round one with the top three ranked players in the world together. With So Yeon Ryu and Lexi Thompson, you feel it's a question of whether they can hole the putts as they both strike it so purely, but Ariya Jutanugarn's chances of successfully defending her title look slim given her form and a shoulder injury.
The unpredictability of the conditions and the draw should make the tournament a little more open than the other ladies' majors and, of course, it would be great to see a strong British challenge throughout the week.
Charley Hull will hopefully shrug aside any issues with a wrist problem that has been bothering her, while Georgia Hall is growing in confidence and maturity. Georgia is a young, richly-talented English player set to make her Solheim Cup debut in a few weeks' time, and I have a feeling Mel Reid will be among the contenders on a course she rates as her favourite.
The last British winner was Catriona Matthew back in 2009, and the veteran Scot is part of the game within the game as she bids for a ninth Solheim Cup appearance. This is the last counting event before the captains finalise their teams, with the announcements for their picks live on Sky Sports News on Sunday night.
Catriona has already been appointed as one of Annika Sorenstam's assistant captains, but she needs to show some real form here to be at the Des Moines Golf and Country Club in a playing capacity, while Caroline Masson, Azahara Munoz and Sandra Gal are all in similar positions with rookie Madelene Sagstrom also in the frame.
A couple of weeks ago, with Michelle Wie and Cristie Kerr among the walking wounded at the US Open, you would have thought American captain Juli Inkster would have the most concerns. But circumstances since the last major have given Sorenstam more headaches.
Anna Nordqvist, Europe's highest-ranked golfer, has been laid low with glandular fever and she was too ill to play last week at the Ladies Scottish Open. As a result, the Swede is no longer eligible to qualify for the team as she hasn't played the minimum amount of events.
She is relying on a captain's pick and, given Nordqvist's statement on social media, I am not sure she is ready to be playing this week. I am no medical expert but I am aware glandular fever can be very debilitating and energy sapping.
Will she be totally ready for the three-day intensity and slog of a Solheim Cup? I'm not too confident she will, but how can Sorenstam not pick her top player? It may be a case of picking a reserve too.