With the Open Championship at Royal Lytham been and gone, all eyes have focused to the next golfing major on these shores as the turn of the world’s best women golfers to contest their own Open at the home of one of the sport’s most historic venues, here on Merseyside.
Royal Liverpool, on the banks of the Dee Estuary at Hoylake, has played an integral role in the history of the sport.
But this will be the first time the women have taken on the famous links with so much at stake.
The fact that the rota for the women’s Open now includes the same venues as the men shows how far the event has come since the days when it was not even considered one of the most significant on the world calendar.
Today’s event is one of the most highly-prized on the circuit and will attract the vast majority of the world’s best women golfers.
And the higher profile brings with it the very welcome attention of the TV cameras – a factor that England’s most successful player believes is a crucial component in the on-going campaign to attract the next generation of players.
Laura Davies, who has won more than 80 tournaments worldwide, is delighted the Ricoh Women’s British Open will be in the limelight and hopes it can win over new fans – and potential players – for the women’s game.
“This is a chance to watch women’s golf on live TV – hopefully young girls will see women playing golf and think it is something they would like to try rather than thinking it is just a game for young boys,” she said. “The women’s Open is a great chance to put the sport in the public eye.”
Davies’s career is the most decorated in English women’s golf, dating back to turning professional in 1985 and highlights include topping the Ladies European Tour order of merit a record seven times, being the first non-American to head the LPGA rankings and a CBE.
In only her second year as a pro she won the McEwans Wirral Classic and the Ladies British Open, before it had become a major.
“The Wirral Classic was played at Caldy and I remember that being a mixture of links as it went towards the sea and heathland,” she said. “I have fond memories of that win in front of my aunt.”
However her return to the Wirral will see the 49-year-old charting new waters.
“I have never been to Royal Liverpool, but I watched Tiger Woods playing it on the TV in 2006,” she explained “It looks a very tight course, but so much will depend on how the wind is blowing, what the rough is like come September.
It should be very exciting.
“It has been fantastic to see the event being played on some great links courses over the last few years – all the girls really enjoy the chance play links golf,” she says. “It’s exciting to see how the Women’s Open is now played on the same courses as the men’s.
“It is a unique event on our golfing calendar and for all the British players it is the big one. Obviously the women’s US Open is a massive event as well, but this one is special for the British players. And it will attract a strong field of the best players in the world.”