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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

My "5 to Watch" at the RICOH

Our fourth consecutive week of links golf brings us to the Ricoh Women's British Open, where I.K. Kim will be the defending champion.

Defending champion I.K. Kim

Tony Jesselli has his (as usual) top-notch preview of the event at his blog. This year the Ricoh will be held at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, which last hosted the "big tour" back in 2012 when Ernie Els won and the women in 2009 when Catriona Matthew won. (The Champions Tour hasn't been there in over 20 years.)

At this point, it appears that the course is 'gettable.' In Monday's final qualifier, Swedish amateur Linn Grant shot a 10-under 62 to take the medalist position. Englishwoman Cloe Frankish (an LET player) came in second with a 66. The 17 players who qualified all shot 69 or better, and there was a seven-way playoff for the final spot.

Yeah, we could see some low scores this week. But who will shoot the lowest scores of the bunch? I have some ideas...
  • Of course, Ariya Jutanugarn has to make my list. Coming off a win at the Scottish Open, in difficult conditions, you have to think she'll be in a good frame of mind to possibly get two in a row.
  • Minjee Lee is playing ridiculously well to have only won once this year. I don't think I've picked her as a Top5 pick in any major this season... but this week she makes my list. Her form has held up week after week, and it's that consistency -- combined with a runner-up last week at the Scottish Open -- that makes her a pick this time.
  • Remember 'rookie' Jin Young Ko? While she has cooled off a bit from her two wins in late 2017-early 2018, she's still playing extremely well. She finished T3 last week, her eighth Top10 of the season, and she put up a 67 in the tough conditions Sunday to get that T3. She could rise to the occasion this week.
  • I.K Kim seems happy to be back on the links, having posted a seventh-place finish last week. She proved last year that she can handle this style of play, and a return to the style of golf that broke her "major curse" should put her at ease as she tries to go back-to-back.
  • My flier is Mo Martin. Mo has only one LPGA win, but it's the 2014 Ricoh. She's been playing pretty well this year and, although she's one of the shorter players on tour, that doesn't really matter in links golf and she plays well in tough conditions. She won't be first on most people's list but I wouldn't bet against her if she gets in contention.
And my pick is... Minjee Lee. While Martin is a sentimental favorite and I think Ko may be underrated at this point, Minjee is waaaaay overdue for a major win, and her consistency this season bodes well for a good showing at Royal Lytham.

GC's coverage of the Ricoh begins Thursday morning at 6am ET. Best of all, it looks as if the women are going to get seven-hour coverage windows each day, so we should get to see a lot of the players for a change.


  1. The Final Qualifying was actually held at nearby St Annes Old Links.

    1. Thanks, IC. The source I checked didn't mention the course, so I assumed it was the same course. But it rarely is, is it?

      Still, I would think the condition at all the nearby links would be similar.