The LPGA is out of the country again this week. They’re at storied Carnoustie in Carnoustie, Scotland, about 350 miles NNW of London for the Women’s British Open. As one of the LPGA Tour’s majors, it’s a very big deal week.
Carnoustie is famous in its own right, but humans have added to its notoriety, the latest being Jean Van de Velde. In 1999, he strung together such a shocking collection of misjudgments on the 18th hole, that he blew a 3-shot lead and ended up in a playoff that Paul Lawrie eventually won. And in 2007, Sergio Garcia wasn’t able to get it done on Sunday, shooting 73 to Padraig Harrington’s 67 and losing in the playoff.
The course’s closing 3 holes are very strategic because of the burn that meanders through them like some drunken tourist. The most demanding is the 18th where Van de Velde fell apart and this year, it’s the most controversial. The Committee has moved the tee way up so that longer players like Yani Tseng only had a mere wedge into the green in practice rounds. They said the men played it 100 yards further back, Van de Velde famously trying to get a 2 iron to the green. We’ll see if the Committee sticks with that.
The other nice thing about the Women’s Open is that it’s a full-field event, so some of the younger players will finally get a chance to play and hopefully make some money and a name for themselves.
And all the big names will be there too: Yani Tseng, Kristie Kerr, Michelle Wie, Karrie Webb, Ai Miyazato, Brittany Lincicome, Suzann Pettersen, Paula Creamer, Julie Inkster, Morgan Pressel, Stacy Lewis, et. al. Not the least of the et. al.s will be Hee Kyung Seo, the “Supermodel of the Fairways,” who may have lost the U.S. Open to So Yeon Ryu, but set the world of ladies’ golf fashion on fire with her Bean Pole Golf line. I’m still getting hits on my blog from my post I wrote about her two and a half weeks ago! (Ryu apparently isn’t in the field so that she can complete her college studies in time for the LPGA Q-School.)
For the American players, playing the links courses in the British Isles is like stepping back in time to the origins of the game. In all of their interviews, they are uniformly enthusiastic and upbeat about the course and, most of all, to test themselves on it. As usual Mother Nature will be the great unknown. With a high of 62, there’s a 40% chance of showers in light winds to kick things off Thursday. But the rest of the week should be partly cloudy with continuing light winds and about the same temperatures.
So it should be very interesting to see how the ladies handle an institution. ESPN has the live coverage beginning at 9 AM (Eastern).