Hall and Hull happy to be playing first AIG Women’s British Open at Royal Troon

Georgia Hall and Charley Hull in a practice round for the 2020 AIG Women’s British Open at Royal Troon
Georgia Hall hits her tee shot on the third hole at Royal Troon as Charley Hull looks on during a practice round ahead of the 2020 AIG Women’s Open. Picture by DAVID CANNON

GEORGIA Hall hopes to feed off her love of links golf and passion for the AIG Women’s Open as she goes in search of a second Major title at Royal Troon.

The 24-year-old is enjoying the buzz of the first women’s Major Championship of the year.

And its the event Hall memorably won in 2018 at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

Given Royal Troon is set to present a similar links challenge, the Dorset player is relishing the task as a star-studded international field prepares to compete from Thursday.

With the AIG Women’s Open being played without spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hall said: “It’s lovely coming to an event knowing that you’ve won it and done the job in a Women’s Open.

“I look forward to this more than any other throughout the year.

“It’s always very special to see all the massive boards everywhere and it definitely feels like a Major.”

The R&A Women and Girls’ Golf ambassador added: “I think it’s an amazing venue at Royal Troon. I love links golf.

“I only bring the three-iron out once a year, and this is the week. So I can’t wait. I’ve heard it’s going to be windy, so it’s going to play extremely tough.”

Woburn’s Charley Hull winner of the 2020 Rose Ladies Series American Golf Order of Merit
Hull found some form playing the Rose Ladies Series, winning the £20,000 American Golf Order of Merit and getting in some links practice at Royal St George’s

Hull: Rose Series was good prep

WHILE fellow Solheim Cup winner Charley Hull is more familiar with parkland courses, the 24-year-old has experience of Royal Troon.

The Woburn pro, who hails from Kettering, played it in her early teens as an amateur in the Helen Holm Scottish Open Strokeplay Championship.

“I’m feeling good,” said Hull, who has posted five top-10s in Majors.

“I played Royal St George’s in the Rose Ladies Series about a month ago and that kind of got me in some links golf.

“The golf course is in great condition. The greens are rolling really nicely.

“I like it because it doesn’t look that long on the scorecard. But it has a lot of lay-up holes that leave longer irons into the greens. I quite like that because I’m a strong long-iron player.”

With Royal Troon hosting the AIG Women’s Open for the first time, Hull is especially looking forward to the challenge of the ‘Postage Stamp’ – the short eighth, which measures just 114 yards.

“It’s only a wedge,” said Charley. “It depends on the wind direction, so it’s a good birdie hole I think.

“There’s a lot more tricky holes out there, but it’s a cool little hole.”

Dame Laura Davies, making her 40th appearance in the championship, has the honour of striking the opening tee shot on Thursday morning at 6.30am.

World No. 2 Danielle Kang paid tribute to Dame Laura Davies who is playing in her 40th Women’s British Open at Royal Troon
Danielle Kang paid tribute to Dame Laura Davies, who is playing her 40th Women’s British Open this week at Royal Troon. Picture by TRISTAN JONES

Kang pays tribute to Dame Laura Davies

WORLD No. 2 Danielle Kang has been the form player in recent weeks with back-to-back LPGA wins.

Kang, who came up just short in last week’s LPGA Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club, in North Berwick, which was won by Stacey Lewis, paid tribute to the most successful British player in modern history.

“Dame Laura Davies is a legend, an absolute legend,” said Danielle. “And she’s a role model in how she approaches the game.

“How she plays the game is different – her style of golf is different. And she’s so strong in how she plays her game, yet so different and it’s so graceful.

“For her to be able to play this championship for 40 appearances, that is amazing. It tells you that you can do it for a long time, and golf gives us that.

“Any time she plays, I still watch from across the fairway. She’s our rock.”

Australia’s Hannah Green can’t wait to tackle Troon. The World No. 20 said: “My mum’s side of the family is from Scotland. They are up in Fraserburgh, which is about 45 minutes north of Aberdeen.

“My first actual trip to Scotland was in 2018, so not that long ago. I was then fortunate enough last year that I got to play St Andrews, but I had not actually been to this side of Scotland.

“I’m really excited to be here. I feel like I do have, you know, somewhat of an idea of links golf. I’m from Perth where it does get windy – but probably not the same scene as Troon.”

Japan’s Hinako Shibuno the 2019 AIG Women’s British Open winner at Woburn
Japan’s Hinako Shibuno last year’s winner at Woburn Golf Club. Picture by GETTY IMAGES

Cinderella Shibuno went to the ball and is back for more

DEFENDING champion Hinako Shibuno, from Japan, has promised the TV audience will at least see her beaming smile this week.

Shibuno lit up the galleries with her smile a year ago at Woburn, and was dubbed the “Smiling Cinderella.”

Hinako said: “I’ve always been conscious of keeping a smile on my face while I’m playing.

“But after winning the AIG Women’s Open last year, it made me realise, once again, the importance of playing with a smile.

“I’ve had a lot of experiences but nothing that tops my experience of winning the AIG Women’s Open.

“I’m going to have to play smart. But at the same time as defending champion, I’m going to enjoy it.”

Another past winner looking forward to the first Major of the year is Thailand’s Ariya Jutangarn.

The 2016 winner from Thailand, said: “As soon as I walked in, I felt like this is a Major, because everything is set up, especially the golf course.

“My caddie told me how great it is and how tough it is, how challenging it is. I think the first thing I learnt on links is patience.

“You really need to be patient because, especially the weather, you can’t control it. It can be windy. It can be raining. Anything can happen in one round.”

The staging of the AIG Women’s Open continues a rich history at Royal Troon, having hosted The Open on nine occasions.

It has also hosted events such as The Senior Open Championship, the Amateur Championship and the Women’s Amateur Championship.

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