MEET MAMIKO HIGA
24-year-old Japanese player Mamiko Higa is a relatively unfamiliar name near the top of an LPGA leaderboard, but it’s somewhere she has been before. She has three top-seven finishes in eight LPGA starts, including a T7 at the 2013 Ricoh Women’s British Open, and was tied for the lead heading into the final round of the 2013 Mizuno Classic before an LPGA career-best T3 result. The Rolex Rankings No. 51 player is a four-time winner on the JLPGA and is also slated to compete for third-seeded Team Japan at the 2018 UL International Crown.
Higa, who is from Okinawa and lists nine-time LPGA champion Ai Miyazato as her role model, created buzz earlier this year after announcing her engagement to well-known sumo wrestler Ikioi Shote. The couple are due to be married on their shared birthday of October 11, the week after the UL International Crown.
ROLEX WOMEN’S WORLD GOLF RANKINGS UPDATE
With a win at last week’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open, Ariya Jutanugarn regained the top spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. However, four players – Sung Hyun Park, So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng or In-Kyung Kim – could wrest that away with a strong finish at this week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open.
S.H. Park is projected to move to World No. 1 with a win at Royal Lytham & St Annes. She can finish as low as fourth and regain the top ranking, depending on various finishes by A. Jutanugarn, Ryu, Sh. Feng and I.K. Kim.
Ryu is projected to move to World No. 1 with a win at Royal Lytham & St Annes. She can finish second and regain the top ranking, depending on various finishes by A. Jutanugarn and S.H. Park.
Sh. Feng must win and have A. Jutanugarn and I. Park finish seventh or worse, and S.H. Park and Ryu finish third or worse.
I.K. Kim must win and have A. Jutanugarn finish 20th or worse, S.H. Park finish fourth or worse and Ryu finish third or worse.
Inbee Park missed the cut at Royal Lytham & St Annes and therefore cannot move back to World No. 1.
After the second round, A. Jutanugarn is T15 at -3, S.H. Park is sixth at -7, Ryu is seventh at -6, Sh. Feng is T24 at -2 and I.K. Kim is T15 at -3.
NINETEEN UL INTERNATIONAL CROWN COMPETITORS REACH WEEKEND AT RWBO
The Ricoh Women’s British Open is a great preview of the 2018 UL International Crown, as 29 of the 32 players in the ULIC field teed it up this week. All of Team Korea, Team Australia, Team Thailand, Team England and Team Sweden are represented at the year’s fourth major championship.
The leaderboard through 36 holes shows off the talent that will be on display in Incheon this October – the top seven players are all UL International Crown Team members, representing six of the eight competing teams. In total, 19 UL International Crown team members reached the weekend.
Republic of Korea (four players in field, four made the cut)
Sung Hyun Park, So Yeon Ryu, In-Kyung Kim, In Gee Chun
USA (three players in field, two made the cut)
Jessica Korda, Cristie Kerr, Michelle Wie (WD)
Japan (three players in field, one made the cut)
Nasa Hataoka (MC), Misuzu Narita (MC), Mamiko Higa
England (four players in field, two made the cut)
Charley Hull (MC), Georgia Hall, Jodi Ewart Shadoff (MC), Bronte Law
Australia (four players in field, two made the cut)
Minjee Lee, Katherine Kirk (MC), Su Oh, Sarah Jane Smith (MC)
Thailand (four players in field, three made the cut)
Ariya Jutanugarn, Moriya Jutanugarn, Pornanong Phatlum, Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong (MC)
Sweden (four players in field, three made the cut)
Anna Nordqvist (MC), Pernilla Lindberg, Madelene Sagstrom, Caroline Hedwall (MC)
Chinese Taipei (three players in field, three made the cut)
Teresa Lu, Wei-Ling Hsu, Hsuan-Yu “Phoebe” Yao
Rolex Rankings No. 97 Pornanong Phatlum (67-67—134, -10)
Phatlum is playing in her eighth Ricoh Women’s British Open; she has only made the cut once, finishing T27 in 2014
Her 134 shatters her previous best 36-hole score at the Ricoh Women’s British Open; she returned a 147 in 2014, the only year she made the cut
Her 134 is tied for the third-lowest 36-hole score of Phatlum’s LPGA career; it is also one off the 36-hole RWBO of 135
This is Phatlum’s 18th tournament of the 2018 LPGA season; her best finish is T7 at the Honda LPGA Thailand
Her best career major finish is seventh at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open
She turned professional in 2006 and joined the LPGA Tour in 2009 after finishing T34 at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament
Phatlum has four runner-up finishes in her LPGA career – the 2013 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, the 2014 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, the 2015 Cambia Portland Classic and the 2016 HSBC Women’s Champions; she also has an unofficial win at the 2012 HSBC Brasil Cup, a two-day exhibition
She has two wins on the Ladies European Tour – the 2012 Hero Women’s Indian Open and the 2013 Omega Dubai Ladies Masters
The last time Phatlum held a portion of the lead following any round was the third round of the 2014 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, where she finished second
Phatlum is trying to become the second Thai player to win a women’s major championship, joining Ariya Jutanugarn, who won the 2016 Ricoh Women’s British Open and the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open
Phatlum will compete in her third UL International Crown for Team Thailand in October
Rolex Rankings No. 39 Georgia Hall (67-68—135, -9)
Hall is playing in her sixth Ricoh Women’s British Open; she has made the cut three times, with a best finish of T3 in 2017 at Kingsbarns
Her 135 matches her score from 2017, when she shot 68-67 on Thursday and Friday; she returned a pair of 70s on the weekend to finish T3
This is Hall’s 15th tournament of the 2018 LPGA season; her best finish is T7 at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic
Hall’s best career major finish is T3 at the 2017 Ricoh Women’s British Open
Hall is trying to become the second Englishwoman to win the Ricoh Women’s British Open since it became a major in 2001, joining Karen Stupples, who won in 2004; only three Englishwomen have won majors – Laura Davies (four majors), Alison Nicholas (one major) and Stupples (one major)
Hall will compete in her first UL International Crown for Team England in October
Rolex Rankings No. 8 Minjee Lee (65-70—135, -9)
Lee is playing in her fifth Ricoh Women’s British Open; she has made the cut twice, finishing T25 in 2016 and T9 in 2015
Her 135 is her best 36-hole showing at the Ricoh Women’s British Open, bettering the 141 she shot in 2015 en route to a T9 finish
This is Lee’s best career major performance for 36 holes; she previously shot 138 at the 2017 ANA Inspiration
This is Lee’s 18th tournament of the 2018 LPGA season; she has a win at the LPGA Volvik Championship and seven other top-10 finishes, including a runner-up showing at last week’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open
Lee has four career LPGA victories – the 2015 Kingsmill Championship, the 2016 LOTTE Championship, the 2016 Blue Bay LPGA and the 2018 LPGA Volvik Championship
Lee’s best career major finish is T3 at the 2017 ANA Inspiration
Lee is trying to become the third Australian to win a women’s major championship; with a win, she would join Karrie Webb (seven majors) and Jan Stephenson (three majors)
Lee will compete in her third UL International Crown for Team Australia in October
Rolex Rankings No. 51 Mamiko Higa (66-69—135, -9)
Higa is playing in her third Ricoh Women’s British Open; she finished T7 in 2013 and missed the cut in 2014
Her 135 is her best 36-hole showing in her three championship appearances, bettering the 139 she shot in 2013 en route to a T7 finish
This is Higa’s ninth career LPGA start; her best finish is a tie for third at the 2013 Mizuno Classic in her native Japan
Higa is a full-time member of the JLPGA; she has four victories on that tour, including the 2018 KKT Cup Vantelin Ladies Open, and has 13 top-10 finishes in 2018
She is currently No. 1 on the JLPGA’s Mercedes-Benz Player of the Year rankings, second in stroke average at 70.48 and fourth on the money list
Higa is trying to become the second Japanese player to win a women’s major championship, joining Chako Higuchi, who won the 1977 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
Higa will compete in her first UL International Crown for Team Japan in October
At 5-under 139, Mina Harigae is the leading American, with Brittany Altomare (140), Jessica Korda (141) and Amy Olson (142) joining her in the top 25
One amateur made the cut, Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul
13 major champions made the cut: Sung Hyun Park, So Yeon Ryu, Pernilla Lindberg, Brooke Henderson, Lydia Ko, Hyo Joo Kim, Catriona Matthew, Ariya Jutanugarn, In-Kyung Kim, Shanshan Feng, Cristie Kerr, In Gee Chun and Mo Martin
19 countries are represented by the post-cut field, and 13 of those countries already boast major champions: Australia, Canada, the People’s Republic of China, Chinese Taipei, England, France, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Scotland, Sweden, Thailand and the USA
Six countries in the post-cut field have yet to earn a major title: Colombia, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Spain and Wales.
The cut at the Ricoh Women’s British Open is to the top 65 players and ties
Of the seven past champions in the field, four made the cut: Ariya Jutanugarn (2016), In-Kyung Kim (2017), Mo Martin (2014) and Catriona Matthew (2000); missing the cut were Inbee Park (2015), Yani Tseng (2010, 2011) and Karrie Webb (2002)
Other notables to miss the cut include English favorites Laura Davies and Charley Hull; major champions Brittany Lang, Brittany Lincicome, Eun-Hee Ji, Yani Tseng and Anna Nordqvist; and 2017 RWBO runner-up Jodi Ewart Shadoff
Brooke Henderson had a hole-in-one at the par-3 ninth hole, from 141 yards and with an 9-iron; thanks to the ace, Ricoh will donate £2000 to Alzheimer’s Research UK
Henderson’s hole in one is the 13th ace in championship history, the second of the championship (Florentyna Parker aced the same hole on Thursday) and the 23rd of the 2018 LPGA season
Of the 13 holes-in-one in Ricoh Women’s British Open major history, seven have come at Royal Lytham & St Annes (most of any venue)
The three major winning scores at Royal Lytham & St Annes are 285 (-3, Catriona Matthew, 2009), 281 (-7, Sherri Steinhauer, 2006) and 278 (-10, Annika Sorenstam, 2003)