There are many reasons that major championships are special. There are only four each year and each has its own traditions and nuances that make it stand out from the rest. The RICOH Women’s British Open, while technically the youngest of the four majors on the LPGA schedule, is rich in history and tradition, making it one of the most coveted titles in women’s professional golf. This year, the RICOH Women’s British Open returns to Royal Birkdale for the second time as a major, the first being in 2005.
Catriona Matthew will return to defend her title this year just on a different golf course. Matthew became the first-ever Scottish LPGA major championship winner in 2009 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club. The 39-year-old mother of two carded a 3-under-par 285 (74-67-71-73) to record a three-stroke victory over Karrie Webb.
Royal Birkdale hosted the tournament in 2000, the year before the event achieved major championship status, with Sophie Gustafson claiming the title. Gustafson birdied the final hole for a 10-stroke win and her second title of the 2000 LPGA Tour season.
And in 2005 Jeong Jang posted a wire-to-wire win at the event to become the eighth Rolex First-Time Winner this year. Jang never trailed and was brilliant throughout, winning by four shots over Sophie Gustafson as she joined countrywoman and U.S. Women's Open champion Birdie Kim in making her first career win a major championship.
Thoughts on Royal Birkdale from the past:
- Laura Davies - 2000 - The fact that we are at Birkdale is very healthy for us, because it is without a doubt one of the best courses we will ever play.
- Sherri Steinhauer - 2000 - Royal Birkdale is a real treat to play. You need to drive it straight and keep it low if the wind blows.
- Karrie Webb - 2000 - It's a great golf course. I is different than what I am used to playing. I like the fact that you have to create some shots out there. You have to hit it low and into the wind. You have to work the ball.
- Karen Stupples - 2005 - The greens are just perfect in terms of what you expect from a links golf course. They are firm enough and they are just the right firmness; I mean, in terms of how they are playing and the fairways are running out nicely. So I can play all of those little bump‑and‑run shots that I used to play when I was growing up, and it's very nice to come and play those again, having spent, you know, so much time in the States with just flying it all the way to the flag and watching it stop. It's really quite nice having to plot your way around the golf course in a completely different way.
- Paula Creamer - 2005 - I love this golf course. It's beautiful, it's tough, the fairways are firm. Right now obviously with the rain coming it's going to get soft, but it's a beautiful venue out here.
Facts about the course - The Royal Birkdale Birkdale Golf Club:
The Royal Birkdale Golf Club, one of Britain’s finest golf clubs has been voted the No 1 course in Britain, and is among the best in the world. Having previously hosted two Ryder Cups, the Walker and Curtis Cups, the Women’s British Open, and on nine occasions the Open Championship, it will be hosting the Ricoh Women’s British Open again in 2010.
Among the many great courses along the North West coast, The Royal Birkdale stands out as a perfect example of links golf. Anyone who's anyone in golf has played the links course. The great Open Champions here are testament to that very fact, Arnold Palmer, Peter Thomson, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson, Mark O'Meara and most recently Padraig Harrington in 2008.
The Royal Birkdale is on the North West coast of England, it is situated on the same stretch of coastline as fellow Championship venues Royal Lytham and St Annes and Royal Liverpool Golf Club.