'It's at my home course – but there's no pressure on me this time'
Three years ago Charley Hull was the poster girl of the Women's British Open. Now she's happy to come to her home course a bit more under the radar
Even at the young age of 23 Charley Hull is quite different from the teenager who burst onto the scene a few years ago. There’s a genuine happiness about her; she gets married later on this year and appears to be in a very nice place. And her golf remains on an upward curve, which makes her one of the favourites as the Women’s British Open returns to her home club and the Marquess Course at Woburn.
When did you first come to Woburn?
I joined Woburn when I was 9 or 10 when someone from the golf club at Kettering introduced me. I loved it straightaway and it was a brilliant place to practise.
I will have a lesson there now with Matt Belsham and the short-game area is unbelievable. You can hit every different shot possible.
How different are you from 2016 when the Women’s British Open was last here?
I’m a lot more mature now. In 2016, my poster was on the drive coming in and there was a lot of pressure as I was sponsored by Ricoh and it was at my home club.
So this year I’ll be a lot more relaxed and a lot of the attention will be on Georgia (Hall) and Bronte (Law) so I can get on with my golf. Last time it was all on me and there are plenty of great golfers out there so it adds a bit of pressure.
I love the majors and always play quite well in them and my game is in good shape and I’m coming into form. I was bit poorly at start of the year but got my win in Abu Dhabi, which was great.
You finished in the top 20 in 2016, how was the golf side of it?
I found the 1st tee quite nerve-wracking as the fairway is quite wide. I puffed it up in the air and managed to hit it and made birdie, which settled me down.
I played really well on the Sunday. I was something like eight under after 13 but I made a few bogeys coming in.
This year I’ll stay at home earlier in the week and spend a bit less time at the club. I try not to spend too much time at the clubhouse generally on tour so I’ll try and manage that.
In my first years I would hang around more, now I’ll do my business and go back. Being at the club eight hours a day can be draining.
If you had a choice of the three courses, where would you like the championship to be staged?
Probably the Duke’s as it’s a bit tighter but still has the length, but they can make the Marquess tight if they want to with the rough.
The last time they set it up quite short which threw me a bit. A few weeks later we went out off the backs from 7,200 yards and I shot five under.
What are your particular favourites on the Marquess?
I like the 3rd hole which is a long par 4 dogleg, the 7th is a good par 5 with a split fairway – I always go right to give me the chance to take it on – and I like 9 as well. On the back nine I’d go for the par-3 14th.
Your fiancé does a lot of boxing. How has that affected your fitness?
I’ve lost 9-10 kilos so I feel a lot fresher and that helps with jet lag and I’ve not been getting as sick. That said, I eat unhealthier foods but I have a balanced diet. Before I used to crash diet which I didn’t like.
He is a welterweight fighter and I’ve done some boxing with him. I do some cardio and a lot of balance and stretching, but I should do more of that.
They’re two very different sports, is he a good influence on your golf?
He’s quite strict with me and I need that. He has a lot of discipline and works hard and that rubs off on me. This winter I’ve worked harder than ever and addressed issues that I might have ignored before. Say with my short game, I would work on it but now I’ll do it properly. When I sprint now I’ll give it my all rather than just half measures.
Mentally, he believes in himself and doesn’t want to get beat. I have to be more like that. He’s a very mentally strong person so my dad’s happy that he is in my life. If have a bad week then there’s always the next. Boxing is different. He has to peak for a fight. I like hitting balls in my garden and he says to chill sometimes otherwise I’ll get too wrapped up in it.