The first round of the AIG Women's Open gets underway on Thursday, August 10, with tee times beginning at 6:30 a.m. local time. It's another star-studded, 144-player field this week with 14 of 15 2023 LPGA Tour winners set to tee it up alongside 10 past champions and all of the top 10 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings. Take a look at just a few of the featured groups you'll get to watch tackle the tough test that is Walton Heath Golf Club in the 47th playing of the AIG Women's Open.
Thursday, 8:20 a.m. – Nelly Korda, Lydia Ko, Charley Hull
Three LPGA Tour winners make up group 11, who will start their day at 8:20 a.m. local time on Thursday morning. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Nelly Korda is making her seventh appearance in the AIG Women's Open this week at Walton Heath. In her six previous starts in the major championship, the eight-time winner has missed one cut and recorded three top-15 results, finishing T13 in 2021, T14 in 2020 and T9 in 2019 at Woburn Golf and Country Club, a venue that, like Walton Heath, isn't a typical links-style facility like many of the other courses on which this event has been contested. The 25-year-old comes to Surrey, England after taking a week off following her T9 finish at The Amundi Evian Championship two weeks ago in Evian-les-Bains, France. It was her seventh top-10 result of the 2023 LPGA Tour season and her second-best finish in a major championship this year, behind Korda's third-place performance at The Chevron Championship in April.
Nineteen-time winner Lydia Ko has been in a slump for most of the 2023 season, recording just one top 10 in her very first start of the year, a T6 at the Honda LPGA Thailand. Like Korda, Ko chose to take the FREED GROUP Women's Scottish Open presented by Trust Golf off after a T61 showing at Evian Resort Golf Club and should be coming into the fifth and final major of the year rested and ready to turn her season around at the AIG Women's Open. This is the major champion's 12th start in the event, and in her 11 previous appearances, she has earned five top-20 finishes, the best of which is a tie for third that came in 2015. This will be the sixth time that Ko will play this tournament in England.
Englishwoman Charley Hull is making her 12th start in the AIG Women's Open and has earned three top-20 finishes in her previous 11 appearances in the event, the best of which was a tie for 12th that came in 2014 at Royal Birkdale. The Woburn, England native hasn't had her best stuff as of late, missing three cuts in her last five starts, and is hoping to rekindle some of the magic she found in her T2 performance at Pebble Beach Golf Links last month in an effort to become the first English winner of the AIG Women's Open since Karen Stupples in 2004 at Sunningdale. In addition to that top five in California, the 27-year-old has earned two other top-10 results this year, finishing T2 in the season-opening Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions and T7 in the LPGA Drive On Championship at Superstition Mountain.
Thursday, 12:38 p.m. – Lilia Vu, Lexi Thompson, Linn Grant
Lilia Vu has captured two LPGA Tour titles this season, becoming a Rolex First-Time Winner at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February and then winning the first major of the 2023 season, The Chevron Championship, after defeating Angel Yin in a playoff at the Club at Carlton Woods. Vu missed four cuts in her next five starts following her win in Houston, Texas, two of which were at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship and U.S. Women's Open. She's righted the ship a bit lately, making the cut in her last two starts at The Amundi Evian Championship and FREED GROUP Women's Scottish Open presented by Trust Golf, finishing T42 and T35, respectively. This is only Vu's second start in the AIG Women's Open, and she'll be looking to continue her upward trajectory and improve upon her T41 finish in 2022 at Muirfield.
We haven't seen Lexi Thompson tee it up on the LPGA Tour since missing the cut at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational alongside partner Brooke Henderson. She's only made two cuts in seven starts this season, finishing T31 at the Cognizant Founders Cup and T47 at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club. This week marks Thompson's 11th start in the AIG Women's Open, and in her 10 previous appearances, she has missed three cuts and finished in the top 20 six times, most notably tying for eighth in 2016 at Woburn Golf and Country Club.
Rounding out the trio is Sweden's Linn Grant, who, like Vu, also became a Rolex First-Time Winner this season, taking home the Dana Open title after firing rounds of 64-69-62-68 to win by three shots over Allisen Corpuz. In addition to her victory, Grant has earned one other top five this year, a third-place result at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play presented by MGM Rewards, and four other top-20 finishes, most notably finishing T16 at The Amundi Evian Championship and T20 at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. This is the 24-year-old's third appearance at the AIG Women's Open. She finished T19 in 2022 at Muirfield and missed the cut in 2018 at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.
Thursday, 12:49 p.m. – Ashleigh Buhai, Brooke Henderson, Rose Zhang
Defending champion Ashleigh Buhai is looking to become the first player since Inbee Park at the 2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship to successfully defend her major title this week at Walton Heath. Buhai became a Rolex First-Time Winner at the 2022 AIG Women's Open, winning in a four-hole playoff over three-time major champion In Gee Chun. The South African has captured three other worldwide wins since her breakout victory in Scotland – the 2022 ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open, the 2023 Investec South African Women's Open and the 2023 ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer, Buhai's second LPGA Tour victory. In addition to her win last year, the 34-year-old has two other top-15 results in this major championship, a T11 in 2020 at Royal Troon Golf Club and a solo fifth in 2019 at Woburn.
Brooke Henderson gave it all she could in her title defense at The Amundi Evian Championship a couple of weeks ago, but came up six shots short of Celine Boutier, ultimately finishing solo second in Evian-les-Bains, France, her best finish of the year since winning the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions in January. While it's felt like the Canadian has been in a slump since that victory, things actually haven't been too bad for Henderson. In addition to her win and runner-up at Evian Resort Golf Club, the 25-year-old has earned four other top-20 results on her 2023 resume, two of which came in major championships when Henderson finished T15 at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship and solo 12th at the U.S. Women's Open. Historically, in the AIG Women's Open, Henderson has fared pretty well, missing just one cut and notching three top-15 results, including a T7 last year at Muirfield. Considering that her momentum seems to be shifting, as evidenced by her week in France, Walton Heath could see Henderson make a run at her third career major title.
After winning in her first start as a professional at the Mizuho Americas Open in June, many wondered how Rose Zhang would handle her newfound notoriety with a full slate of major championships upcoming. Not surprisingly, the 2023 LPGA Tour rookie has taken everything in stride and maintained that solid form that she put on display at Liberty National Golf Club, finishing T8 at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, T9 at the U.S. Women's Open and T9 at The Amundi Evian Championship. She has missed one cut so far, failing to play the weekend at the Dana Open after falling ill, but as far as everything else is concerned, the transition from top-tier amateur golf to the world's biggest stage in women's professional golf has been smooth for the Stanford University standout. While this is her first AIG Women's Open as a pro, Zhang has played in this event twice before, missing the cut in 2021 at Carnoustie and finishing T28 in 2022 at Muirfield. Taking last week off to rest and recharge before another major tournament, the 20-year-old is sure to wow once again this week at Walton Heath Golf Club and make another challenging test look easy.