British Open: The players in search of Kingsbarns glory
The Sentimental Favourite Lexi thompson (USA)
Links golf is very much a learning curve and, given she’s still only 22, Lexi is still learning. Trying to cajole your ball around a gusty layout by the sea in Fife will seem like a whole world away from the drop-and-stop nature of home in Florida and the rest of the LPGA Tour but Thompson will get there. Maybe it will be this year?
Once upon a time, it was actually at the 2014 Open at Birkdale, Thompson blew two balls out of bounds at the opening hole and made a 10. But the 19-year-old didn’t conform to teenage type and sulk but played the next 17 holes in one under to sneak into the weekend.
Thompson, as well as an abundance of skill and power, has what it takes up top to prosper. In April she got hit with a four-shot penalty as she closed on her second major title and still made it into a play-off.
Then, the following month, she won for the eighth time on Tour.
”I’m so over that. It is in the past. It’s unfortunate what happened but it’s time to move on and this puts a lid on it,” she said. Top fives are now commonplace and she is closing in on the top spot in the world. And she’s still only 22…
BEST FINISH: 8TH (2016)
The Euro Star Suzann Pettersen (Nor)
While Lexigate was playing out at the ANA, Pettersen’s tilt at a third major also hit the buffers. Thompson’s playing partner played the last six holes in one over having spent the first two hours tousling for the lead.
In the end she came up one short but it was proof that there is plenty still left in the 36-year-old’s tank. Her form since has been particularly consistent which is what Pettersen does so well – churning out the big results on a weekly basis – and she thrives on links golf.
BEST FINISH: 2ND (2014)
The Unfathomable One Michelle Wie (USA)
Her best finish came when Wie was still an amateur at Birkdale 12 years ago but her whole career has been full of surprises and she’s still only 27 (I know, seems ridiculous).
The Hawaiian will likely turn up in Scotland with some sort of new technique – the table-top putting has gone now – but the talent is still there and the results have been on the up this year after the injury and form struggles of years gone by.
You have to think her ball control should suit her at somewhere like Kingsbarns.
BEST FINISH: 3RD (2005)
The Home Hope Georgia Hall (Eng)
The chances are the Dorset star will make her Solheim debut this year and she could stamp her ticket with a big week in Fife. Hall played in two Opens as an amateur.
At St Andrews in 2013 she made it onto the leaderboard after two rounds. Hall finished the week as joint leading amateur but, having been told (wrongly) that she had lost a countback, she was at the airport when she should have been receiving her award along with Lydia Ko.
Now a star on the pro ranks.
BEST FINISH: 29TH (2014)
The Banker Inbee Park (Kor)
Park missed last year with a lingering thumb injury, which almost kept her out of the Olympics (a tournament she then won), but her record in this championship is phenomenal.
The only time she finished outside the top 10 was at St Andrews in 2013 and there she had the pressure of having won the year’s first three majors.
An incredible putter, she should rack up the birdies at Kingsbarns. She has a win in 2017 thanks to a storming finish in Singapore. Last time the Open visited Scotland, Park shot 65 at Turnberry to win by three.
BEST FINISH: WON (2015)