Ariya hopes to be on song to regain British Open crown
Ariya Jutanugarn wasn’t a fan of links courses but victory in the Scottish Ladies’ Open at Gullane last Sunday has given the new world number one a boost ahead of the Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
The 22-year-old Thai star won the British Open at the non-Links course of Woburn two years ago and added the US Open in June.
She chalked off another of her career goals when she first became world number one for a short spell last year.
“Now I just want to win as many titles as I can,” said the Bangkok-born star.
“This course is amazing. I still don’t really love links golf,” she said after a first outing over Lancashire’s famous Open Championship course. “But I’m getting better at playing the courses.
“Last week was great and I learned a lot about playing in the wind.”
Known for her big hitting, Ariya did not include a driver in her armoury when she lifted the trophy two years ago.
It will be the same over the next four days — the longest club will stay in the locker.
“I do use it sometimes — honest,” she said.
“But just not this week.”
Kim In-kyung arrives at Lytham as the defending champion.
The South Korean put her major demons to rest when she won the title at Kingsbarns near St Andrews last year.
At the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship in California she earned sympathy from golfers the world over by missing a one-foot putt for victory before losing in a play-off.
“After winning my first major last year, I am now finally at peace,” said the 30-year-old world No.7.
“I have had ups and downs in major championships, but I have coped with everything.”
She couldn’t be happier to be back at Lytham.
“I was here for the 2009 Women’s British Open and it is my favourite golf course in the entire world.
“Being back here as the defending champion is a real bonus.
“It’s tight, which suits my game, and you can get really punished if you stray off line.”
Park Sung-hyun is another South Korean on hot form.
The current LPGA Rookie of the Year already has two major titles — the 2017 US Women’s Open and this year’s LPGA Championship.
As a rookie, she reached world number one in November last year and is currently ranked third behind Ariya and the 2015 British Open winner, Park Inbee.
“This is my third British, and I haven’t really performed too well,” said the 24-year-old, who finished just inside the top 20 at Kingsbarns.
“But I played in Scotland last week and the extra experience at a links course has really helped.”