World No. 1 Stacy Lewis will defend this week at the Ricoh Women's British Open.

The best women golfers from around the world will descend on Royal Birkdale this week for the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The first Women’s British Open was held in 1976 at Fulford Golf Club, but in the early years of the tournament the women found it difficult to get access to the best courses in Scotland and England. That has changed and the Ricoh Women’s British Open now includes stops at St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Liverpool, Turnberry and Royal Lytham.

Betsy King, Patty Sheehan, Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak, Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa are just a few of the names of past winners of the Women’s British Open.

Here are some reasons you may want to set your DVR to catch all of the exciting golf action from Royal Birkdale this week.

Ricoh Women’s British Open offers huge purse.

The Ricoh Women’s British Open offers a total purse of $3 million with $450,000 going to the winner. The average LPGA Tour purse is normally half that amount and the first-place check is $180,000-$200,000.

A win will give any woman a big boost on the LPGA and Ladies European Tour’s (LET) money list.

Ricoh Women’s British Open is a Major Tournament

The Ricoh Women’s British Open is a major tournament sanctioned by both the LET and the LPGA. Women must qualify to gain entry and only the best women golfers in the world will be in the field.

Two women’s majors have already been contested this season with Lexi Thompson winning the Kraft Nabisco and Michelle Wie winning the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst last month.

Lydia Ko is seeking her first Major title

Lydia Ko won the 2014 Swinging Skirts Ladies Open.

Teenage sensation and LPGA Tour rookie Lydia Ko has three LPGA Tour titles on her resume and one LET victory, but she has yet to win a major championship.

She finished runner-up last year at the Evian Championship, while still an amateur.

Even at the age of 17, she has the game and the temperament to win a major.

Look for her to be a factor on Sunday afternoon at Royal Birkdale.

Ricoh Women’s British Open is a preview for the men’s Open Championship next week.

The men’s Open Championship will be held next week at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake. It is the oldest major championship in the world and draws a field that includes golfers from around the globe.

Royal Birkdale is only 28 miles north of Royal Liverpool on the western coast of the United Kingdom. Golf fans will get a rare treat to view two of the world’s premier links golf courses over the next two weeks.

Royal Birkdale has a storied history.

Royal Birkdale was founded in 1889 and has hosted nine men’s Open Championships, plus the Women’s British Open on five previous occasions.

It has also hosted two Ryder Cups and a Walker Cup, as well as, the Curtis Cup.

The women will be trying to add their name to the distinguished list of men that have won the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. Peter Thompson, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson, Ian Baker Finch, Mark O’Meara and Padraig Harrington all won Open Championships here.

Lexi Thompson will be trying to win a second Major Championship

Lexi Thompson won the Kraft Nabisco in March.

Lexi Thompson is just 19 years old and won her first major championship at the Kraft Nabisco in March. This is her third full season on the LPGA Tour and her length off the tee coupled with accurate iron shots always make her a favorite to win.

Royal Birkdale will show fans true Links Golf

Americans are only exposed to true links golf once every year when the Open Championship is held.

True links golf courses were constructed on land that was unsuitable for farming purposes and connected the arable land to the sea. Rolling sand dunes, windy conditions and firm fairways promote a game played more along the ground, rather than through the air, like many American golf courses.

Michelle Wie will be looking to add another Major title

Michelle Wie is the No. 6 ranked player on the Rolex Rankings right now, but is No. 2 behind Stacy Lewis on the LPGA Tour money list and Race to the CME Globe.

Michelle Wie with the U.S. Women's Open Trophy.

She won earlier in the year at the LPGA Lotte Championship and added her first major title at the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst three weeks ago.

She has 10 top-10 finishes this season and is fulfilling the potential that golf fans have been yearning to see from her for several years.

Stacy Lewis is the Defending Champion

Stacy Lewis was the No. 2 ranked woman in the world behind Inbee Park last year when she won at St. Andrews. Lewis is now the No. 1 woman in the world and is dominating the LPGA Tour with three wins and 13 top-10 finishes.

She is coming off a runner-up to Michelle Wie at the U.S. Women’s Open and a win at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

She is playing with supreme confidence and there is no weakness in her game.

If she can figure out the swirling winds at Royal Birkdale, she will be among the leaders on Sunday.

These are just a few of the many reasons why the Ricoh Women’s British Open is must-watch television for golf fans.

All four rounds of the Ricoh Women’s British Open will be carried live on ESPN2 Thursday-Sunday, 9:00 AM-12:00 PM daily.

 

 

This article also posted to eDraft.com/golf

 

 

 

 

 

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Michelle Wie with the U.S. Women's Open trophy.

I thoroughly enjoy watching the best women golfers ply their trade every week on the LPGA Tour and I love Pinehurst. Visiting the Village of Pinehurst and soaking up the history is a truly awe-inspiring experience.

With the addition of the multitude of talented young players, the depth of the LPGA Tour has exponentially increased the enjoyment factor.

I firmly believe the LPGA Tour has one of the best products to offer golf fans week in and week out.

The U.S. Women’s Open even gives us a glimpse of the young amateurs that will be tomorrow’s stars, like Stephanie Meadow, as they get their first taste of world-class competition.

The USGA in their infinite wisdom took that enjoyment out of the equation.

Watching the best women golfers in the world struggle to make double-bogeys and triple-bogeys is no fun.

I am forced to watch that style of golf every week with my buddies and it reminds me too much of my own sorry excuse of a golf game.

Pinehurst No. 2 proved to be a difficult test for the men in the week preceding the women’s tournament. Dry conditions left the course extremely firm and fast and made the greens nearly impossible to hold and except for the outstanding performance of Martin Kaymer, it became a chipping contest.

The grand experiment of playing the U.S. Women’s Open the week after the men’s U.S. Open is intriguing and seemed like a good idea at the time, but was a USGA prepared Pinehurst No. 2 a fair test for the women?

Stacy Lewis played well on Thursday and Sunday, but struggled in between.

Golf purists would argue that all of the ladies had to play the same course and thus the most talented woman was identified.

That may be true, but it wasn’t enjoyable to watch.

Only five players were able to break par in the first round and the cut came at nine-over-par after 36 holes. Only two women were left under-par after the first two rounds and only the winner, Michelle Wie finished under par for the four rounds.

Again the USGA types would say this is exactly what they had in mind. Par becomes relevant, not just some big number with a negative sign in front of it.

Being forced to watch the best women in the world continuously struggle around the greens for nearly impossible par and bogey saves was like watching the final scene in “Tin Cup” over and over and over or being the recipient of a root canal.

It was painful.

The ladies are not as physically strong and cannot get as much height or spin on their iron shots. Consequently, their approach shots careened off the bowl-shaped greens and left diabolical recovery chips or putts from off the green.

Chip shots, bunker shots and some putts would not hold the greens and the player was forced to watch helplessly as her ball continued to roll off the other side into an even more difficult position.

Donald Ross designed his severely undulating green complexes on Pinehurst No. 2 at a time when green speeds were much slower than today and the grass could not be cut as tight. The severe slopes in the greens and the beveled edges were not as penal.

Was Pinehurst No. 2 meant to play at 12 on the Stimpmeter?

Lydia Ko even had Mark "Fluff" Cowan as her caddie at Pinehurst.

With modern mowing equipment and better agronomy the greens more closely resemble a table top or a concrete driveway. There is very little friction to stop a golf ball rolling downhill.

Like the “Energizer Bunny,” it just keeps going and going.

Only a slight amount of rain fell on Pinehurst during the two weeks of both tournaments, not nearly enough to sufficiently soften the course to accept full iron shots into the firm greens.

Stacy Lewis and Michelle Wie are the two best players in the world right now. Lexi Thompson, Lydia Ko and Karrie Webb aren’t too far behind.

Thompson and Ko only managed to break par in one round and Webb never was able to break 70 and finished T-30. Thompson was a factor in the tournament and finished T-7 at four-over par. Ko finally broke par with a one-under-par 69 on Sunday to leave her T-15 at seven-over-par for the week.

Add in the extreme heat and humidity that is prevalent in North Carolina in mid-June to the difficulty of the golf course and fitness becomes a factor as well.

Michelle Wie is a worthy champion and certainly deserves the title of U.S. Women’s Open Champion.

My only question is, couldn’t we have witnessed the same result on a slightly less difficult golf course?

 

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