She hasn’t been to every single AIG Women’s Open, but it sure seems like it. This week at Royal Troon, Dame Laura Davies celebrates her 40th AIG Women’s Open, having made her first appearance as a 16-year-old amateur at Wentworth in 1980.
With Royal Troon hosting the AIG Women’s Open for the first time, it made perfect sense for Davies, one of the greatest British golfers of all time, to strike the opening tee shot. And as anyone who has watched the Dame play knows, she plans to take full advantage of the wide-open golf course in front of her.
“The R&A, Mr. Slumbers, he sent me an email last week saying we'd love to invite you to hit the opening tee shot, and that's an honor, but more importantly you get a clear golf course, and I'm looking forward to not waiting on people,” said Davies, who played an 18-hole practice round in under 2.5 hours on Tuesday. “It's an early start, but once you're out there in hopefully as good a condition – we might get the best of it from looking at the gusts up to 35 miles an hour. That early in the day I'm hoping we can get out there and maybe have a decent start. It's definitely an honor, and he mentioned that Monty had done it at the men's Open the last time he played, so yeah, I didn't hesitate to say yes, and yeah, I'm looking forward to it. I hope I hit a good one.”
With the exception of 1983, when the tournament was not conducted, Davies has not missed a tournament since she started competing in 1980. She earned a victory in 1986 at Royal Birkdale and had a streak of 13 consecutive made cuts from 1985 to 1997.
Since the tournament became a major in 2001, Davies and Cristie Kerr are the only players to appear in all 19 competitions.
STACY LEWIS LOVES THE SCOTTISH LINKS
It’s safe to say that Stacy Lewis absolutely loves links golf. The 12-year LPGA Tour veteran has twice seen success at the Old Course at St Andrews, perhaps the most iconic of all links courses, going 5-0-0 at the 2008 Curtis Cup and closing birdie-birdie to win the 2013 AIG Women’s Open. Last week, she captured the Aberdeen Standard Investment Ladies Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club, her first victory in nearly three years.
Always a student of the game, Lewis has extra appreciation for Royal Troon and its prominent place in golf history. After hosting The Open on nine occasions, this is the first time the world’s best female golfers will compete on the famed layout.
“This is a big week for women's golf. To be playing here on a golf course that's been in the men's rotation for a very long time and didn't even allow female members to come play this golf course for a very long time,” said Lewis. “So this is a really big week and I think a lot of girls, I was talking to Minjee Lee yesterday, and she didn't know. She didn't realize the history here and what we were really doing. And just really cool I think of R&A to give Laura Davies that first tee shot tomorrow. There's just a lot of history to be made this week.”
Lewis and her long-time caddie Travis Wilson spent much of her practice time focusing on the winds and changing weather conditions over the coming days at Troon. Wednesday’s gloriously sunny skies and calm breezes are expected to give way to rain and gusty winds over the four competition days. The native Texan is no stranger to playing in the wind and as her links track record shows, she knows that no matter how much she plans, she had better be ready to roll with the punches.
“I think going out, it's going to be mostly into the wind, and then coming back in, the back nine is going to be mostly downwind. So a lot of what my caddie and I have been talking about is how we are going to manage that, how the bunkers will may into being into the wind versus downwind,” said Lewis. “Those holes coming in, you have to look at what's 10, 15 yards short of the green, because that's where you're going to be landing shots in a couple days. It's all about adjusting. You know, winds change in different conditions and you have to adjust with it.”
BY THE NUMBERS – AIG WOMEN’S OPEN
The following statistics were compiled by Amy Mills, the LPGA’s senior manager of statistical research.
This year marks the 20th edition of the AIG Women’s Open played as a major championship. A total of 17 players from 10 different countries have won. Hinako Shibuno has an opportunity to join Jiyai Shin (2008, 2012) and Yani Tseng(2010, 2011) as two-time winners of this event since it became a major and make Japan the third country with wins in consecutive years.
MULTIPLE MAJOR WINS
In the last five years, six players have won two majors. Lydia Ko is the last player to win consecutive majors (2015 The Evian Championship, 2016 ANA Inspiration).
Hinako Shibuno won the last major championship played 55 weeks ago.
MAKING THE CUT
The average number of players to make the cut the last three years at the AIG Women’s Open is 71 players. A total of 16 players have made the cut each year since 2017 and have a combined score to par of -267. Five players have scored over -20 combined in these years when the event was played at Kingsbarns (2017), Royal Lytham & St Annes (2018) and Woburn (2019).
Last year at the AIG Women’s Open, Lizette Salas finished second at -17, one stroke behind Hinako Shibuno. Salas has four career top-10 finishes in majors, with two of these recorded in 2019. This is her 39th major championship start.
Salas has six starts in the AIG Women’s Open and is her only major with no missed cuts. She is -11 combined in both the first and fourth rounds compared to just -3 combined over the second and third rounds.