This week at Walton Heath Golf Club marks the first time since 2019 that the AIG Women's Open will be played in England, and the R&A gave Englishwoman Mel Reid the opportunity to hit the opening tee shot on Thursday in Surrey, England. The 35-year-old was in the first group out at 6:30 a.m. BST alongside Maria Fassi and Alison Lee and said that it was an honor to get the tournament underway and hit the first shot of the week, even if it meant waking up at 3:30 a.m. to do so.
"Hitting the opening (shot) in the Women's British Open is special. It's a nice accolade," said Reid, who is playing in her 15th AIG Women's Open this week. "That was really cool for me. It was nice, my mates got up, a couple of my family members drove down. Getting up in the middle of the night is tough, especially when you're getting on a bit like me and I have to warm the body up more than used to. Nice to get done early."
Reid opened her week at the fifth and final major of the 2023 LPGA Tour season with an even-par 72, an up-and-down round that saw her make six bogeys, four birdies and an eagle. That eagle came on the par-5, 6th hole after Reid began her day with three bogeys in her first five holes and all of her birdies came in a six-hole stretch as she made three in a row on holes 14, 15 and 16. The 72 is the Brit's second-lowest first-round score in the AIG Women's Open – she opened with a 67 in 2017 at Kingsbarns Golf Links – and while she currently sits just a few back of the early lead, the LPGA Tour veteran wasn't overjoyed with her Thursday effort.
"I actually didn't feel like I played that great. I drove the ball really well. Hit one bad drive on 18 and that was it," said Reid, who hit 11 of 15 fairways. "If you miss the fairway, it's very punishing because you need to get a good lie or you're chipping out 30 yards. Greens are big and (you need to) kind of hit middle of the greens, and if you hit a pace putt, you have a chance to score. It can get away very quick if you're not switched on. There are some short holes, but it's pretty long and the way the bunkers are positioned, you don't need to do a lot wrong, especially if the wind gets up a bit. It's a tough golf course."
Despite the challenges she faced on day one at Walton Heath, Reid feels good about how things stand with both her game on the course and her life away from the game. She and her wife Carly are expecting their first child together later this year, and she's currently 83rd in the Race to the CME Globe standings, well inside the top-100 benchmark needed to maintain her status for the 2024 LPGA Tour season. She recently made her "Live From" debut on Golf Channel at the U.S. Women's Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links and she has recorded 10 rounds in the 60s so far this season, a number that's well up from the three rounds in the 60 she managed to card in 2022. In all, things are good for Reid at the moment, and compared to where she was at this point last year, the Englishwoman is grateful to see her life and her game trending in a positive direction.
"I feel like my personal life is in the best place it's been and feel like I'm getting my game back on track," she said. "It was rough last year, and nice that the hard work is starting to pay off and this game, you have to earn everything. It's not ever given to you, so it's nice to be playing well again."