12th May 2010 - Newly crowned Rolex Rankings Number 1 and 2008 Champion, Jiyai Shin heads the latest entry list as the Ricoh Women's British Open gears up to celebrate it's 35th year as one of the world most prestigious Championships.
The historic Royal Birkdale Golf Club will host the 2010 Championship from 29th July to the 1st August for a fifth time, having most recently hosted the Women's British Open in 2005 when Jiyai's compatriate Jeong Jang claimed her first Major with four sub-70 rounds.
With the 2007 Ricoh Women's British Open winner, Lorena Ochoa, having recently retired, all of the world's top 10 women will be hoping to wrestle the title from reigning champion, Catriona Matthew. An in-form Ai Miyazato (no.2) is the most prolific winner on the LPGA this year having already won three times and will be among the favourites along with Yani Tseng (no.3) who won her second Major title earlier this year having fought off a spirited challenge from World number 4 Suzann Pettersen. Cristie Kerr (no. 5), the 2007 US Women's Open Champion, presents an ever consistent threat having spent the last 317 weeks in the World's top 10 as she seeks her second major title. World number 6 Anna Nordqvist, number 7 Karrie Webb, number 8 Michelle Wie together with Na Yeon Choi and In Kyung Kim complete the 10 top ranked players in the field.
Since winning the Ricoh Women's British Open in 2008, Jiyai's rise up to the pinnacle of the rankings has been meteoric and her profile in the world of golf has followed a similar curve, recently winning the prestigious 2009 Player of the Year awarded by the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA). Jiyai received her award alongside Tiger Woods at an awards banquet at The 2010 Masters impressing everyone with her acceptance speech showing that she had worked just as hard on her English as she has on improving her golf.
Jiyai is looking forward to returning to the UK to try and reclaim her title having finished T-8th at Royal Lytham & St Annes last year. She explained "Winning the 2008 Ricoh Women's British Open was where it all started for me and although I have had many special wins since then, of course I have been hoping to win another Major. I would be very happy if it could be at Royal Birkdale this year. I enjoy the different challenges of playing links golf and am looking forward to playing at such a prestigious and famous club. Jeong Jang had a fantastic win there last time and so I hope I can follow in her footsteps as I did in Se Ri Pak's when I won at Sunningdale."
For good measure Jiyai offered a couple more reasons why she is looking forward to returning to the North West, "I have also worked very hard on my English since last year so I think I will understand everyone better this year. I like hearing the different British accents and I am also looking forward to having fish and chips again this year!"
Defending Champion Catriona Matthew, who was at Royal Birkdale today to host the Championship's media day, added, "It is an extremely strong entry with all of the world's top ten in the field already but it is exactly what you'd expect for the Ricoh Women's British Open as it is a title everyone covets. I am delighted to have had a sneak preview of the course here today. It looks to be in magnificent condition and I will be doing everything I can between now and July 29th to ensure I am as well prepared as possible to defend my title."
Shona Malcolm, the Ladies' Golf Union's CEO, who was in attendance at today's Championship Media Day, commented, "Everything is gearing up for a great event and we intend to build on the success of recent years and continue to improve on this great Championship year on year. The course is in wonderful shape and The Royal Birkdale Golf Club's enthusiasm and support in hosting the Ricoh Women's British Open gives us a great boost as we look forward to this summer. We are very grateful to the media for supporting our Championship and particularly delighted to see such an excellent turn out here today."
For the first time this year fans will be able to watch the BBC's extensive coverage of the Ricoh Women's British Open in HD (high definition) underlining the significance of the Championship in the BBC's sports portfolio.
The Ricoh Women's British Open was founded by the Ladies' Golf Union in 1976 and is staged in conjunction with IMG, the world's largest sports marketing company. The event has been co-sanctioned by the LPGA and LET since 1994 and gained Major status in 2001.
Will Shanshan Feng defend her title?