AIG Women's Open Preview
GEORGIA HALL insists the shine will not be taken off the AIG Women’s Open by the absence of top South Korean stars. World No1 Jin Young Ko and No4 Sung Hyun Park are to miss the first Major of the year at Royal Troon due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hall, the 2018 champion, said: “It’s a shame they are not coming over but it’s a strange year and I completely understand if some of the Asian players don’t feel comfortable. I don’t think it dents the tournament at all. We’ve got some amazing players coming, loads from America and other parts of the world.”
Hall won the tournament in sensational fashion two years ago. She had come close at Kingsbarns in 2017 until four-putting in the third round, and when she arrived at Royal Lytham she was determined to put things right.
She birdied the 18th hole in the third round to get into the final group on the last day and began her day with a birdie at the opening hole before her playing partner and overnight leader Pornanong Phatlum birdied four of the next five holes. However, Hall remained patient. She knew that she had to focus on her own game.
“When I was playing I really wanted to try and enjoy it a bit more and take in the atmosphere,” Hall said, “but the problem is if I’d have done that, I probably wouldn’t have won because my emotions get really high. I was so close to winning, so I really took the Kingsbarns experience, and I just thought ‘No, I’ve just got to concentrate on each shot and then I can relax when I finish’, so that’s what I tried to do. It’s much harder than it sounds though.
"What helped me a lot was I knew that 90% of the crowd were wanting to me win. It really was nice to hear them cheering every time I holed a putt, and it would make me kind of want to hole them more in a way, and hit good shots.”
(Georgia Hall Ready to Lead British Challenge)
While Phatlum got off to a great start, Hall stayed with her and after holing for birdie on the par four 13th hole, the two players were tied for the lead.
“That was a turning point," added Hall. "And then it was weird, after that I thought I’d already won it. Not in a confidence way, I just knew. I just knew I had already won it, so I was very relaxed, I just thought it’s going to happen. This has got to be my event, being in England. I don’t know, I thought I had it then.”
Hall, who is struggling with a wrist injury, says she experienced the same thing in her Solheim Cup singles match against Lexi Thompson. “I do have that sometimes,” she said. “When you shoot a six-under round, a lot of players feel like they’re not worried about anything, not worried about hazards or bunkers, they just hit it kind of worry-free. I have had that. Sometimes it can go away but I think when things do happen like that, I try very hard to make the most of it. It is a great feeling, but then you get some times when nothing goes your way.”
(The Postage Stamp)
Royal Troon has hosted The Open Championship nine times but this will be the first time it has been used for the Women’s Open.
Unlike The Open, the women’s version is not restricted to links courses. First played at Fulford in 1976, it has quickly become established as the major that attracts the biggest international field.
Happily, most of the top players in the world have chosen to make the trip, with a huge number of the top Korean and American golfers heading for Troon, many of whom tuned up for the tournament by playing in the Scottish Open.
Christie Kerr, Stacy Lewis, Thompson, IK Kim, Lizette Salas, Inbee Park - it’s a real who’s who of women’s golf. And, of course, there will be plenty of leading British and European contenders, including Charley Hull, Carly Booth, Mel Reid, Anna Nordqvist and Carlota Ciganda. All we need now is some decent weather.
It has been a tough year for the Ladies European Tour. The season began with high hopes and great expectations after a partnership with the LPGA was announced. But nobody could have predicted the impact that Covid-19 would have. Without the Rose Series, which has seen players competing in seven 18-hole events and a 54-hole finale, there would have been nothing. As it is, this tournament will, of course, go ahead without spectators.
Fiona Hyslop, Scottish cabinet secretary for economy, fair work and culture, said: “Scotland is the home of golf so it is fitting that we are hosting women’s golf’s first major of 2020. This is only possible thanks to the dedication of the R&A in working with the Scottish government and other partners to develop comprehensive plans to allow for an event of this stature to take place, set against the most challenging of circumstances. I am especially pleased that we are able to support the return of women’s professional golf, underlining our commitment to equality across sport and society."
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