Women's British Open preview

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Women's British Open preview
The Royal Birkdale Golf Club will play host for the final LPGA Major championship of the year, the 2010 RICOH Women’s British Open. The field is stacked with 19 of the top 20 players on the Rolex Rankings and leading them is Catriona Matthew, defending Women's Open champion.
This year, the Women’s British Open has one of the strongest fields the sport has ever seen. Jiyai Shin, newly crowned No.1 in the Rolex Rankings is hoping to win her second title at the event, while Cristie Kerr, Tani Tseng and Paula Creamer all compete to add the title as their second Major championship in one season. These women will compete against each other and their peers for the $2.5 million purse.
Last year at Royal Lytham and St Annes, Matthew won her first Major by three over Karrie Webb. She already had three LPGA victories and 77 top 10 finishes. Matthew entered the competition with low expectations after finishing 30th at the 200 Evian Masters but was leading the tournament with 18 holes left to play. Her final-round 73 afforded her the championship trophy.
Adding to the greatness of her victory, Matthew accomplished the win only 11 weeks after giving birth to daughter Sophie, her second child. Sophie is her lucky charm it seems, as Matthew also won the 2009 HSBC Brazil Cup earlier in the season while she was still pregnant with her, and was awarded the 2009 Heather Farr Player Award by her peers as well. This year Matthew earned two top 10 finishes: she tied for fifth at the Sybase Match Play Championship and tied sixth at the KIA Classic.
Shin proved to be a top contender after winning the Evian Masters Tournament on Monday where she birdied the 18th hole on her final round, winning the tournament after shooting a five-under 67 and finishing at 14 under.
“On the final holes I realized I really could win. I became nervous and I put pressure on myself," Shin said. "I did not manage a birdie on the 18th all week and I started to pray that I would do it today. I hit the last putt well and it went in."

Shin was the first South Korean to win the event, and earned herself the Rolex Ranking No.1 as well as $487,500 in prize money. Shin’s win in France was the first of this season and long overdue. She now has seven LPGA career victories and is hoping for one more before the season is over.

Shin underwent emergency appendectomy six weeks ago, but came out playing strong and fully recovered

“I have completely recovered because I don't feel any more pain," Shin said. "The break did me a lot of good because I needed to rest, to stay at home and watch others play."

This is Shin’s second stint atop the Rolex Rankings; she first earned the title earlier this year after the Tres Marias Championship and held on to it for seven long weeks before Miyazato took over after the ShopRite LPGA Classic. Shin is familiar with the pressures of the British Open; she won the event in 2008 at Sunningdale.

Four other British Open champions who will be attending the event this week: Sherri Steinhauer (2006), Jeong Jang (2005), Karen Stupples (2004), and Webb (2002). Steinhauer has three victories on British soil to her name, most recently in 2006 at the Royal Lytham, although she has not competed at Birkdale.

Sweden’s Sophie Gustavfson has a great history on the Birkdale course. She won the Women’s British Open in 2000, a year before it became a major, and was runner up to Jang in 2005. Jang is returning to the site of her victory this week. After putting herself in contention at the Evian Masters where she finished eighth – her best finish this year – she is looking good for a top five finish this weekend.

The Women’s British Open joined the LPGA Tour schedule in 1994 but didn’t become a Major championship until 2001.



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