Women's British Open: Three to back for the Turnberry tester

So Yeon Ryu can cope with whatever comes her way
So Yeon Ryu can cope with whatever comes her way

The world's best women golfers line up at Turnberry for the fourth major of the year. Matt Cooper weighs up the field and recommends the following trio to back...

"So Yeon Ryu announced herself by winning the 2011 US Women's Open and is relentlessly consistent: over half her finishes are top ten."

Tournament History

The Open Championship was established in 1860 but it took another 116 years before the Women's British Open was introduced. It became a permanent LPGA fixture in 1994 and earned major championship status in 2001. Since becoming a major it has mostly been played on Open rota courses, with three ventures to Sunningdale. Turnberry has previously hosted it once, in 2002, when Australia's Karrie Webb lifted the trophy. Two Brits have claimed the title in the major era - Karen Stupples in 2004 and Catriona Matthew in 2009.


Venue - Trump Turnberry

This week will be the last time the famous links is played as we know it (ahead of Donald Trump's renovations). Controversy about the venue arose in the aftermath of Trump's presidential campaign and, in particular, his comments about Mexicans. Golf is not known for its concern for minority issues, but it's clear that had there been time to change the venue, it would have gone elsewhere.


The weather

Let's leave it to Stacy Lewis: "I like that the weather is going to be nasty all week. I think it's really going to separate the field," says the 2013 winner. Quite how bad it will be is anyone's guess, in truth. Thursday should be fine, with more rain from Friday onwards. Wind is to be expected. If you want hints, the 2012 event at Hoylake was played in filthy weather. That year's winner, Jiyai Shin, is not here this week however. Last year the wind was testing, but it was largely dry.


TV Coverage
BBC2 - Thursday and Friday 13:00-17:15, Saturday and Sunday 14:00-18:00

Any Pointers?

Last year Mo Martin was a spectacular and rather wonderful winner. A rank outsider ahead of the week she confirmed victory with her 3-wood second shot into the 72nd green. It hit the pin and very nearly dropped for an albatross two before she converted the eagle that gained her a one-shot victory.

Martin not only confounded the field last year, she also confounded the trends. Fourteen of the last 15 winners of the event already had a top-two finish in the year of their victory (12 of them were winners). Twelve of the last 15 winners had finished tied 12th or better in the RWBO prior to victory. Martin had achieved neither.

She had finished tied 23rd last time out however - 12 of those last 15 winners finished top 30 in their final warm-up event (and all of them were tied 41st or better).


Market Leaders

There are a few doubts about those at the top. Inbee Park missed the pro-am with a stiff back, Lydia Ko has been oddly subdued in the majors since turning pro, Stacy Lewis hasn't won in her last 29 starts, Lexi Thompson is proving herself a very solid major performer but her price has come in after victory last week, and Suzann Pettersen has only one win in her last 42 starts.


Back To The Pointers

Apply the three criteria mentioned above and a long-list emerges. We can't back them all so out go: Chella Choi (too short because of a recent win), Cristie Kerr (only one top five finish in her last 18 majors), Brittany Lincicome (her length might help in the wet but she's not the best traveller), Pettersen and Gwladys Nocera (the Frenchwoman loves the event - she even told the LET website she'd swap her 15 pro titles for one RWBO win - but her best finish is tied 12th last year). Amy Yang, a solid links player, appeals but she is more or less the right price and she withdrew last time out.

(Note: Thompson and Ko fail the previous-RWBO-top-12 test, as do three quality Koreans on debut: Sei Young Kim, Hyo Joo Kim and In Gee Chun. Inbee Park failed to make the top-30 last time out.)


Selections

And then there were three.

The potential filthiness of the conditions has provoked a late switch to So Yeon Ryu rather than Shanshan Feng as the main pick. Back in 2012 at Hoylake Ryu's coach told me she went out into the wind and rain during practice specifically to become adjusted to the anticipated repeat during tournament play. He added that her emotional stability is her secret: she copes with whatever the course, the event and the weather throws at her (recall Lewis' words above). She announced herself by winning the 2011 US Women's Open and is relentlessly consistent: over half her finishes are top ten.

Shanshan Feng has nine top-ten major finishes in her last 16 starts, including a win and was tied second at Royal Birkdale last year. Na Yeon Choi is a major winner (2012 US Women's Open), two-time winner this season and has twice finished top five in the RWBO (and four times in the top ten). They complete the team.

So Yeon Ryu at 14/1
Na Yeon Choi at 33/1
Shanshan Feng at 25/1

I'll be at Turnberry all week, follow me on Twitter @MattCooperGolf and feel free to ask questions.

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