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GOLF: Royal Birkdale 2010

LAURA DAVIES on the inside track Pa6/7ges

WONDER OF WIE

Golfing sensation Michelle on fame, controversy and returning to Birkdale Pages 4/5

Florry’s happy Page to be 4 ‘home’


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Thursday, July 22, 2010

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GOLF: Royal Birkdale 2010 HASTINGS ROAD GREENBANK SCHOOL

TV TIMES

THE Ricoh Women’s British Open will be screened by the BBC at the following times: Thursday and Friday: 2pm-5.15pm Saturday: 2.30pm-5.45pm Sunday: 3pm-6pm

WATERLOO ROAD

PUBLIC CAR PARK

PUBLIC CAR PARK

CAR PARK 5

CAR PARK 3

CAR PARK 4

CAR PARK 1

CAR PARK 2 SPECTATOR VILLAGE

CLUBHOUSE PUTTING GREEN

VIP HOSPITALITY

CONTACTORS’ COMPOUND

GREENKEEPERS

MARSHALS’ HQ SHORT-GAME PRACTICE AREA TV COMPOUND

DRIVING RANGE

KEY ADMINISTRATION OFFICES LEADERBOARD PUBLIC TOILETS PUBLIC CATERING PUBLIC GRANDSTAND FIRST AID VEHICLE ENTRY PEDESTRIAN ENTRY TAXI RANK

Course map by Andy Sumner, Smith Sumner

Melissa leads charge of the young brigade MELISSA REID is ready to lead the charge of a new generation of homegrown players at Royal Birkdale next week. The 22-year-old from Derby has been tipped as the natural successor to the most successful British player in women’s golf, Laura Davies. A breakthrough victory in her third full year on the Ladies European Tour – at the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open – only served to underline the rich potential of the former Curtis Cup player. Now she wants to build on that platform by putting herself in contention for honours at the sport’s major events, both in Europe and America. Reid’s maiden victory

by RICHARD WILLIAMSON follows four finishes as runner-up and she admits: “I feel I should have won more events, but they say your first win is the most difficult. Now I know I can compete against the best players. Good as the European Tour is, if you want to play against the best on a regular basis then America is the place to be and I want to get there as soon as I can. I would love to make the Solheim Cup team first and then look at going to America at the end of 2011.” Such is Reid’s single-minded approach to achieving her goals, she

has even politely declined the help of Sir Clive Woodward. The Rugby World Cup-winning coach had a simple idea – to provide an Olympic standard support team for a non-Olympian. And so Team Reid was born, with Melissa being able to call on the help of 13 coaches ranging from visual awareness to a kinetics expert and nutritionist. But she will arrive for the Ricoh Women’s British Open with a slimmed down team of just four – including her manager and coach. “There was a danger of information overload,” she admits. “I had to filter out what I didn’t need to find a set-up I was comfortable with. People can offer help

as much as they want, but you have to take responsibility for yourself. We have always had a blueprint for what I am trying to achieve, it is just that we have tweaked it.” Reid is looking forward to the extra buzz surrounding Britain’s only women’s major. “It’s always special and has an aura all of its own,” she said. “We play in other big events like the Evian Masters, but it is a great feeling to get the local support for the British players. It is a chance to play against the best players in the world. I don’t think there will be a surprise winner – it will be the player who drives the ball well, hits good long irons and stays patient.”

A GIFT FOR FUTURE

BRIGHT PROSPECT: England’s Melissa Reid has secured her maiden LET title

PAULA Creamer, newly-crowned US Women’s Open champion, is backing Ricoh’s green campaign to reduce our carbon footprint. The British Women’s Open sponsors will plant a tree for every ten people to pledge support for GIFT (Green Initiative For Tomorrow). Creamer said: “Small, everyday changes to our lives can lead to a greener and more environmentally friendly world.” Further details at Royal Birkdale or by visiting www.ricoh womensbritish open.com/GIFT


Thursday, July 22, 2010

★★★★

SPORT 3

GOLF: Royal Birkdale 2010

Watch and learn from the smooth operators World’s best show golf is not all about power by RICHARD WILLIAMSON

T

HE MAN in charge of hosting the world’s best women players at Royal Birkdale next week believes golfers should watch – and learn. Jonathan Seal is chairman of championship at the Southport club, which will be staging the Ricoh Women’s British Open from July 29 to August 1. The tournament has attracted the players who are filling the top ten places in the women’s world rankings as well as a host of other star names including the most successful British women’s golfer of all time, Laura Davies, two of those players trying to take over her mantle in Melissa Reid and Florentyna Parker and the likes of Michelle Wie and defending champion Catriona Matthew. It means the 144-strong field is laced with quality and Seal thinks the Merseyside golfing public should take advantage of the chance to pick up some free tips. “I think golfers of all abilities can learn more from watching the ladies play than they could from watching Tiger Woods or Ernie Els,” explained the seven handicapper who has been a member at Royal Birkdale for 25 years. “For most club golfers, very few players outside the scratch teams would be able to match the male professionals and drive the ball more than 300 yards. “The 250-270 yards that the ladies hit the ball is much more in the range of the handicap golfer.

“The course management of the ladies is excellent. They know that if they knock the ball into the very deep rough they are going to struggle to get it out.

“The ladies do not try to hit the ball too hard. On the whole, they are not very tall and are quite trim but still get good distance on the ball by hitting it with a very smooth swing. It is a good lesson for all of us who try to swing quicker and quicker to hit the ball harder and harder.” Royal Birkdale’s history is laden with the sport’s greatest championship events, but for Seal this will be a first as he serves what he describes as a “long apprenticeship” in the run-up to the return of the Open championship. The chairman of championship at the club is appointed at each Open and remains in position until

CHALLENGE: Jonathan Seal, chairman of championship at Royal Birkdale, prepares for the visit of the women’s best golfers Picture: COLIN LANE the next men’s championship has finished. With the Open on effectively a ten year loop, this can mean a prolonged time waiting in the wings. But given the popularity of the Southport links as a venue for top events, there is plenty of opportunity to add to the bank of knowledge available at the club for hosting such major events. While the Open is likely to return in the high teens of this decade,

given the R&A’s desire to see the British Seniors Open played out at the leading venues it seems inconceivable that the event will not be announced for Royal Birkdale some time in the next five years. Throw into the mix some of the sport’s top amateur events as well – such as the English Women’s Close Amateur Championship in the calendar for 2012 – and Seal won’t be short of things to do!

And his workload next week could mean some very early starts. “The chairman of championship has to look after things from the club side,” said the 50 years-old father of two, who lives at Hightown. “We work with promoters IMG and the Ladies Golf Union and we have to ensure the course is set up correctly. We will talk to the LGU about pin positions, for example. “Also, we have to provide more

Seal will go into the event having already built up his knowledge of how a major event operates from the inside.

HOW YOU CAN SEE THE STARS IN ACTION THE Ricoh Women’s British Open is one of the golfing highlights of the sporting calendar. Celebrating its 35th year, the 2010 championship returns to Royal Birkdale where the superstars of women’s golf, including reigning

champion Catriona Matthew, Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer, Suzann Pettersen and England’s own Laura Davies will be in action. Famed for its fantastic viewing of the on course play, spectators will also be able to savour the atmosphere as

they stroll through the Championship Village. Visitors can take part in the interactive activities, browse the exhibition area and enjoy a little retail therapy in the Kartel Official Merchandise tent. You can also grab a bite to eat or sip a champagne.

than 400 marshalls for the event, which we do with the tremendous support of other golf clubs, and more than 80 scorers. “We also look after the clubhouse. The first players will be going out at 6.30am and given that they will want access to the locker room and practice ground to prepare for their round, the clubhouse will have to be open at around 4.30am. “The last group won’t be in until around 8.30pm so it makes for a very long day.”

The Championship takes place from Thursday July 29 to Sunday August 1 and tickets can be purchased online at www.ricohwomens britishopen.com or on the ticket hotline 0871 945 9421. PRICES: Daily adult tickets - £22

(Thursday-Sunday); Daily concession tickets - £17 (senior citizens, 16-17 year-olds and students); Season adult tickets - £55; Season concession tickets - £45; Under 16s Free (when accompanied by an adult). Free public parking is available.

He was involved in organising the litter collection at the 1991 Open, the scoring in ‘98 and he shadowed the chairman of championship in 2008. “I am very fortunate that because Birkdale has held so many championships over the years there is 30-40 years worth of experience that I can call on,” added the Rensburg Sheppards director. “Birkdale has a reputation for being a challenging course, but also a very fair one. Our aim will be to present it in the best possible way for the Ricoh Women’s Open.”


4 SPORT

Thursday, July 22, 2010

★★★★

GOLF: Royal Birkdale 2010

JUST CHAMPION: Florentyna Parker

Florentyna homing in on title success

FLORENTYNA Parker returns to her roots next week – but does not expect to be able to cash in on home advantage. The 21 year-old has been a member of Royal Birkdale for the past nine years. But the European Ladies Tour player is based in Germany where dad Tim, a former professional at Bootle golf course, now works and opportunities for visits to her ‘local’ course are few and far between. However there will be a strong Merseyside connection for Parker, who scored her maiden victory on the LET this summer at the Dutch Open, when she tees up for the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Accompanied by mum Gina, she will be staying with her grandparents in Crosby which provides a good chance to catch up on family news as well as chasing one of the biggest prizes in women’s golf. “It will be great to play in front of a big crowd and no doubt see a few familiar faces at Birkdale,” the former England amateur international said. “I’ve played the course a few times and it is one I feel comfortable on, but I don’t think there is any home advantage. “It is a great course and the sort of place where you have to keep yourself out of trouble. “A run of pars will be no bad thing – it is important to keep the high numbers off your

by RICHARD WILLIAMSON card. Obviously it can get windy at Birkdale and you want to keep the ball a bit lower, so I will be practising my punch shots in the run-up to the event.” Parker only turned professional two years ago having given up a promising start, which included county honours, at both tennis and table tennis to concentrate on her golf. Her roll of honour as an amateur included appearances in the Junior Ryder Cup, Junior Solheim Cup and Curtis Cup teams. Her biggest success was her victory in the French Under 21 Championship while she won the Lancashire Women’s County championship in 2006. She secured her card for the LET in 2009, with two top ten finishes helping her to 24th on the Order of Merit and second in the Rookie of the Year rankings. This year she has taken her career to the next level, with victory in Holland at the ABN AMRO Ladies Open to go with top ten finishes at the Lalla Meryem Cup, Turkish Airlines Ladies Open and Portugal Ladies Open to leave her in sixth in the European list for 2010. “I don’t know what to expect from the week, but I am playing well and I am happy with my game,” she added.

I’ve no regrets over the decisions I’ve made

W

HEN Michelle Wie arrives at Royal Birkdale next week, it will be with another notable first on the most colourful CV in women’s golf. Four years after joining the professional ranks just days before her 16th birthday, the woman tipped to be as big a force in the sport as Tiger Woods finally secured her first win on America’s LPGA Tour. Success at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico came in her 81st tournament as a professional – which includes several appearances competing against the men – and was a welcome addition to a biography that is as chequered as it is packed. The Hawaiian may not celebrate her 21st birthday until October, but has attracted as many brickbats as bouquets since a golf club was first thrust into her hands at the age of four. She was just 10 when she became the youngest player to qualify for the Women’s US Amateur Public Links Championship – and the records kept on tumbling. But while she has earned plaudits for a remarkable amateur career, controversy has never been far away – whether it be brushes with the rules or her poor performances in the men’s events. What has never been in doubt is her golfing ability – as Royal Birkdale bore witness to five years ago when Wie finished in a share of third at the Women’s British Open as a 15 year-old amateur. Not surprisingly she is looking forward to her return to Merseyside for this year’s Ricoh-backed championship, but she insists she has no regrets over how her career has panned out. “There is nothing I can do to change the past even if I wanted to,” she said

Richard

Williamson EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

PULLING POWER: Michelle Wie is looking forward to returning to Royal Birkdale

Michelle Wie on dealing with fa ahead of returning to a course where she was 12 under par for her four rounds last time out. “It is always easy to look at things in retrospect – all I can do is focus on the future, focus on now. I’m moving forward and I feel good about my game and I’m having fun.” It was her attempts to weld together appearances on both the men’s and women’s tours at a time when she had barely got to grips with life as a professional that triggered the most debate.

A string of missed cuts against her male counterparts – she played all four rounds just once – was all the ammunition her critics needed.

But again Wie is unrepentant about her approach. “It was a great experience and has made me the player I am today,” she said. “I like that I didn’t take the conventional route; everyone has to do things their own way.” Doing things her own way has meant maintaining her education away from the course and she now divides her year

between studying at Stanford University and playing golf. She believes striking that balance has been vital to her well-being. “I think the fact I have pursued my formal education has been good for me and has kept my life balanced,” she said. “I love golf but I also love being able to escape and hang out with my friends who really don’t care how I perform on the golf course. “Everyone at Stanford is so good at what they do that I don’t stand out at all and although it can be a

BUBBLING: Michelle Wie (centre, back) joins in the Curtis Cup celebrations at Formby in 2004

challenge to have it any And she expectation simple philo the focus on and off cour in terms of m don’t let o affect me.” Not surpr


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risingly, the memories of that first visit to Birkdale are etched in her young memory, although she had actually visited Merseyside 12 months earlier. Inevitably, it was a record-breaking appearance when she became the youngest woman to play in the Curtis Cup at the age of 14 as a member of the victorious American team at

SPORT 5

WRAPPING UP WARM FOR THE SUMMER MICHELLE WIE has a secret weapon up her sleeve to cope with the demands of a British summer – an extra layer of clothing. It may be the end of July when Wie arrives on Merseyside for the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale, but she is taking no chances on the weather. The last time the men competed in their Open championship the weather deteriorated as quickly as the scoring – to such an extent that former Masters winner Sandy Lyle quit in mid round. Wie will be ensuring she is well prepared - come wind, rain or shine. “I will taking extra care in packing my suitcase to make sure I have the right clothes to deal with all the weather changes,” she revealed. “I do like the challenges that come with links golf and the variable weather and the different shots you have to play to accommodate the conditions. “But I don’t like to be cold so will make sure I have lots of warm clothes.” Conditions may be a far cry from her homeland in Hawaii, but Wie is relishing the challenge at an event which has attracted all of the top ten in the women’s world rankings. “I love playing in Britain – my coach David Leadbetter is always giving me new ideas about how to tackle the course,” she said.

ame, controversy and Royal Birkdale

o juggle everything, I wouldn’t other way.” e shrugs off the weight of n on her shoulders with a osophy, adding: “I try to keep n having fun – on the course rse. I’m happy with where I am my game and my life and so I other people’s expectations

Thursday, July 22, 2010

the neighbouring Formby course. “I remember Birkdale pretty well although it was five years ago and I was only 15,” she recalled. “I had been over the year before to play in the Curtis Cup so I had an idea of what to expect but I was really excited to be over in the UK and playing on such a famous course in a major championship. “My coach, David Leadbetter, is from the UK so he had lots of advice on what I should expect and the kind of shots I would need to play, so I couldn’t wait to get there.”

Despite mixing it with the world’s top women players, Wie approached the tournament with typical youthful exuberance.

“When you are 15 everything is such an adventure and such fun you don’t really go in with expectations exactly,” she said, “you just rush around trying to take in as much of a new experience as possible and that’s what I did. I wasn’t nervous at all, just excited.” Links golf in this country provides a unique challenge, especially over such an

exacting course as Birkdale, but it is one Wie has embraced with the help of Leadbetter. “I think the number of bunkers and how deep they are was the biggest surprise,” she said. “I love playing links golf as it’s fun trying out different types of shots. I will practise hitting knock-down shots and bump-and-runs ahead of the tournament, for sure.” Wie will enjoy the chance to again revel in the history and tradition of a course that has hosted nine Open championships, four women’s Opens and the Ryder, Curtis and Walker cups in its 121 year history. “To me the golf course is a big attraction – whenever I’m at a great links, I tend to spend the first half of the week soaking up the history,” she said. “I just love seeing all the old pictures and clubs hanging in the clubhouse – and I love the fact that links golf is where it all started. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy the different turf and the different situations. “I didn’t get to look around the rest of

the area much when I was last there so maybe I will get the chance this time.” Despite the criticism that has come her way, Wie believes she has used the last five years well. “I think I am a more mature player now, my short game has improved and I am more knowledgeable and aware about my game and technique,” she says. “I am getting more confident in my game with all the work I put in as it took me a while to recover from my wrist injury and restore my confidence.” And while she is delighted to have got her first win under belt, Wie believes there is still room for improvement “I wish I was doing better right now but I feel like I’m getting better every week,” she said. “I wish my results were a little bit better but I do feel like every week I'm learning something, and I am working at it, and I feel like I'm getting better.

“You can't play perfectly every week. If there is something that I need to work on, then I go on and work at it.

“I haven’t given myself a lot of slack. I don’t attend Stanford in the spring/summer so I have a few months where I can really focus on playing tournaments and improving my game. “I'm proud of myself for going out there, even if I'm not playing my best, I’m out there and giving it my all and looking back with no regrets.”

HATS ON: Michelle Wie embraces Carin Koch at the end of the 2005 Women’s Open “I definitely feel more experienced having played a few more links courses since 2001. I am looking forward to seeing everyone again, too, as I enjoyed wonderful support last time I was at Birkdale. I found the crowds to be really knowledgeable, welcoming and supportive.” And Wie believes the crowds are in for a treat with an open battle in prospect for the championship crown. “Of course, I’d love to win,” she added. “The last time I was at Birkdale, I had a pretty special week. “I was in the presentation ceremony for winning the Smyth Trophy for being the leading amateur so if I could make it back to the presentation ceremony as the leading professional I would be pretty satisfied!” But she knows she faces a highly competitive field. “I think it is exciting times for the LPGA and there are any number of players who could win – there is so much talent and you just never know who will pull it out,” she said.


6 SPORT

Thursday, July 22, 2010

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GOLF: Royal Birkdale 2010 10 TOP NAMES TO FOLLOW Ai Miyazato

Japanese golfer ranked number one in world after opening season with wins at the Honda PTT LPGA Thailand and the HSBC Women's Champions, a feat that hadn't been accomplished since 1966.

Jiyai Shin

South Korean topped LPGA money list in 2009 and won Rookie of Year honours. In 2008 won the Ricoh Women's British Open and the ADT Championship.

Suzann Pettersen

Finished second in 2010 US Women’s Open. Six wins since joining LPGA Tour in 2003, and has since earned six wins, including one major, the 2007 LPGA Championship.

Yani Tseng

The 21-years-old from Taiwan burst onto scene by winning 2008 LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock. Landed second major in April when she won the Kraft Nabisco.

Cristie Kerr

American ranked world number two. Since joining LPGA in 1997, Kerr has won 13 times and earned more than $10 million. Cristie claimed second major at LPGA Championship.

Na Yeon Choi

Korean broke her LPGA duck in 2009 at Samsung World Championship and grabbed her second win at the Hana Bank Kolon Championship in Korea.

Paula Creamer

Famous for playing in pink, the ‘Pink Panther’ won 2010 US Open by four strokes at Oakmont despite thumb injury to claim first major title. Nine-time winner LPGA Tour.

Anna Nordqvist

Only turned pro in 2008 but already has two LPGA Tour wins, including a major – the 2009 McDonald's LPGA Championship (her fifth start) and the LPGA Tour Championship.

Song-Hee Kim

Korean is still without a win after four years on tour, but had 12 top ten finishes in 2009 to be one of the most consistent performers. One of the best golfers to have never won a title.

Karrie Webb

Australia's most successful female golfer with 50 professional wins, including seven majors, in a 16 year career. Has won all the majors and has been inducted to Hall of Fame.

The inside track Hole-by-hole guide by 1986 champion LAURA DAVIES

R

OYAL BIRKDALE can justifiably claim to have a global reputation as one of the finest courses and toughest challenges in golf. Dating from the 19th century, all the major championships in both the professional and amateur game have been staged among the Southport dunes. Birkdale hosted the first of its nine men’s Open Championships in 1954. Australian Peter Thomson won then, and again in 1965, to be followed down the years by Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson, Ian Baker-Finch, Mark O’Meara and most recently, Padraig Harrington just two summers ago. It has hosted the Curtis and Walker Cups and the Ryder Cup (twice) but it was not until 1982 that the Women’s British Open paid its first visit. It was back again in 1986 when England’s Laura Davies powered to victory to announce her arrival as a professional. Since then, she has gone on to win more than 70 tournaments worldwide. Now she is heading back to the scene of that famous and popular triumph and is ideally placed to offer an inside view of the challenge posed by Birkdale.

1st: 430 yards, par 4 The opening hole at Royal Birkdale was a fairly easy par-five back in 1986 but is now much more difficult as it is the longest par-four on the course. It is a left-hand dog-leg that requires a drive avoiding the big mound on the left – known locally as ‘Jutland’ – that has a deep bunker in its face. Too far right though and you could go out-of-bounds as well as having your view of the green blocked by another mound down the right side. A good drive will still leave a demanding second shot for those attempting to get there in two.

2nd: 410 yards, par 4 The second is a pretty hole that I managed to eagle in 1986 but two new bunkers added for the 2008 Open on the right side of the fairway mean that much greater care is now needed from the tee. The feature is the siting of the green which is surrounded by bunkers and banks, creating a tight target beyond the fairway bunker 30 yards out.

SEA OF DUNES: The spectacular coastal setting or Royal Birkdale, with a view of the 12th

3rd: 373 yards, par 4 The key to the third is an accurate drive avoiding the bunkers in the landing area. From the fairway the relatively flat green should easily be hit but any wayward approach will leave a tough recovery shot from the re-contoured surround and could be a struggle to make par.

4th: 175 yards, par 3 I have always thought that Birkdale has the toughest set of par-threes in British golf, especially when the notorious cross-winds are strong. The first par-three on the course is the longest of the short holes and a bold tee shot is needed from the protected tee to reach the green safely. Anything off-line or short will miss the target so club selection is critical here.

5th: 338 yards, par 4 The fifth – the shortest of the par-fours – is a right-hand dog-leg with no obvious dangers from the tee except deep rough

down both sides. Good position on the fairway is needed for the approach shot because it must be well struck. The long, narrow green is almost completely surrounded by bunkers and the front-to-back slope combined with the difficult borrows more than make up for the hole’s lack of length.

6th: 478 yards, par 5 The first par-five is generally regarded as one of Royal Birkdale’s finest holes and presents a great birdie chance. Your drive must avoid the bunkers either side of the fairway if you’re hoping for a chance to go for the green in two, and you can’t be too far right or you’ll have a blind shot in. The long green is protected well by bunkers in front and dunes all around and has tricky contours that make long putts very difficult. The sensible approach might be to lay up and pitch close to the pin for a birdie attempt.

7th: 145 yards, par 3 The par-three seventh with its

characteristic doughnut-shaped bunker seems like a nice and easy follow-up to the demanding sixth and I recall a nice birdie here in my final round in 1986. However, it’s quite a challenge when played from the longer tee and if the wind is up, it can be hard to avoid the numerous bunkers and stay on the upturned-saucer green.

8th: 413 yards, par 4 A great chance to let rip from the elevated tee but beware – the remodelled fairway bunkering can easily catch you out if you’re not on line and this hole played the hardest when the Women’s Open was last here five years ago. A nice long draw will leave a long second to a green protected by deep bunkers both sides – classic links. The green is large but there are few easy pin positions because it slopes front-to-back and has many deceptive borrows.

9th: 397 yards, par 4 The ninth is another tough hole, a dog-leg with a blind drive to a fairway that has been moved


SPORT 7

Thursday, July 22, 2010

★★★★

GOLF: Royal Birkdale 2010

on taming of Birkdale

FIVE STAR: Looking back down the 5th hole from behind the green

green nestling amid the dunes even further to the left since we played it in 1986. It is important that you find the short stuff, though, because the second shot needs to be accurate and the right length. The green is slightly elevated and club selection is again crucial because short shots will be bunkered and anything long is over the back and in trouble.

10th: 360 yards, par 4 Your drive on the big dog-leg tenth again must be well-placed to avoid the bunkers on the left and those down the right, including a new one far right. From the middle of the fairway though it is quite straightforward to get on the green, the main feature of which is a ridge. It also slopes back toward the apron so a bold shot is needed again to have a good chance of birdie.

11th: 352 yards, par 4 The elevated tee on the eleventh makes you feel like hitting a big drive but this

Picture by ALAN BIRCH

relatively straightforward hole has been made more demanding by the tightening of the fairway and the addition of a new bunker on the left. The angle and slope of the green makes for difficult pin positions and the one we all dread is back right where the rough seems to come right up to the putting surface.

12th: 149 yards, par 3 I consider the short twelfth at Birkdale to be one of the best par-threes in Britain. It is a very attractive hole, cradled in dunes near to the sea, but the deep bunkers and the close proximity of the dunes can cause problems. The green looks quite inviting from the tee but is never that easy to hit, especially in high wind.

13th: 430 yards, par 4 The thirteenth has always been a testing hole but it is now even more difficult due to the carefully reworked bunkers around the landing area for the drive. There is also a dangerous ditch on the left

which can claim anything off line. The shot in to the green needs to be long and accurate to avoid the greenside bunkers. This hole is the same length as the first and just as tough – par will be a good score here.

14th: 163 yards, par 3 The last par-three is close to the clubhouse and practice area so normally gathers a good crowd. It is played from an elevated tee which is protected from the wind and the target looks large but is very open and exposed to the elements. This, and the deep bunkers in the newly-shaped surround, make it quite hard to find the correct part of the green for a birdie attempt. As with all of the short holes at Royal Birkdale, club selection is

FINAL APPROACH: The defining image of Birkdale on the run-in to the18th

absolutely critical.

15th: 499 yards, par 5 The par-five fifteenth looks quite different to the way it did in the 80s – the trees down the right and behind the green have long gone and there are now 15 bunkers to be negotiated along its way. These narrow the landing area but a good drive safely on the fairway should pave the way for a long second over the cluster of fairway bunkers towards the green to set up a birdie, or eagle, opportunity. However, with more bunkers guarding the front of the tricky green the percentage shot is a

CHAMPION: Laura Davies knows what it takes to win at Birkdale

lay-up to leave a short pitch up to the flag.

16th: 358 yards, par 4 This shortish slight dog-leg right is an exacting hole that needs a long carry over rough ground, avoiding the bunkers on the corner. An accurate drive will leave a fairly simple second over lots of bunkers to the large, elevated green. The surround is littered with deep bunkers and hollows so it is imperative the green is not missed or par will be tough to make.

17th: 516 yards, par 5 The penultimate hole is another classic as we head back towards the clubhouse over the final stretch. The drive must split the two dunes and avoid the new bunkers on the right side of the fairway – a slight draw would be perfect. Any drive pitching on the fairway usually gets some run on this hole and will give you a chance to reach the newly-remodelled, two-tier green tucked into the dunes.

This hole is now the longest in the Championship and the green is much further back than it used to be so again a lay-up and pitch in could be the sensible play to avoid ruining a good score.

1st: 472 yards, par 5 We’ve now arrived at one of the most famous finishing holes in golf with the gleaming white clubhouse waiting in the distance. From the right-hand tee, up in the dunes and bushes, the obvious driving hazard is the bunker splitting the fairway. The tendency is to push the ball out to the right which leaves a harder line in to the green than the preferred left side, from where you have every chance to get on in two and finish with a birdie. The green is not the most demanding on the course but it is guarded by three bunkers which leave a very narrow entrance to it, so once again, laying up short can often be the best play unless you’re in the perfect position.


8 SPORT

Thursday, July 22, 2010

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The Royal Birkdale Golf Club . 29 July - 1 August 2010 www.ricohwomensbritishopen.com

Royal Birkdale 2010  

Golf: Royal Birkdale 2010. Golfing sensation Michelle Wie on fame, controversy and returning to Birkdale

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