There wouldn’t be a more popular winner of the Women’s British Open than Derbyshire’s Melissa Reid.
Reid lost her mum in a car crash in May and then somehow won the following month in Prague.
The 24-year- old has long been hailed as Britain’s next big thing and she is delivering, her latest victory was her fourth on tour and she was part of the victorious Solheim Cup team.
What would be nice now is a genuine challenge in a Major.
Reid’s best effort remains a tie for 16th at the Women’s British Open at St Andrews in 2007 when she was still an amateur.
What do you know about Hoylake?
I have never played it before but have heard some great things about it and it’s obviously one of the best courses in the UK so I’m really looking forward to playing there. I’ve heard only a couple of holes are actually in the dunes so I’m sure when the wind is up there will be little protection for us, which always makes it exciting!
I’ve seen pictures of the course and especially the holes along the shoreline which look great and I believe they will be difficult holes so hopefully I will get to play a practice round soon. I certainly remember watching on TV when Tiger won in 2006, the way he held off some of the best players in the world was amazing and winning just two months after the death of his father was very emotional.
How suited is your game to links golf?
Yes I really enjoy links golf. Living in Derby I didn’t exactly grow up playing links everyday but I obviously played my fair share in amateur tournaments and with my friends and family. I just love it because you can hit down through the ball so much better than you can in the rough and you get all the flyers. So for me it’s my favourite form of golf. The challenges are different as you have to get into bump-and-run shots and low drives.
I have been used to flighting the ball high so I will work on keeping the ball down.
Just talk us through those final few holes in Prague?
The last four holes are pretty tough and they had my absolute concentration. I knew it was tight and I had no cushion between me and the others in contention so I really just took it shot by shot and closed everything else out. I managed to birdie 17 and then needed to par 18.
I have honestly been totally overwhelmed by the level of support I’ve received. What were you thinking as you played the 18th and after the final putt had gone in?
I felt surprisingly calm playing the last. I knew that I needed to make par and even when I hit my approach just through the green I didn’t panic.
I hit a reasonable chip to about five feet and knocked it in. Looking back, I was very focused and in my own little world, not wanting to think about anything other than what I was doing. It was only when the putt dropped that my emotions took over a bit and it’s fair to say there were a few tears shed. So many players had stayed behind to support me and to see them all there for me and to think for the first time what it meant to me and my family was very special.
Can you give us a taste of what people have said or written in the last few months?
I have honestly been totally overwhelmed by the level of support I’ve received. Players from all the major tours, many of whom I’ve never met, have sent lovely messages of support, way more than I could ever have expected. A couple of leading PGA Tour players have evidently lost their mothers when they were young and I was touched they also took the trouble to send a note.
The LPGA got stickers printed with my mum’s name on, and in her favourite colour (purple), that the players could wear. I never imagined that I’d hear from so many people but I think that says a lot for golf and the people involved in it.
What sort of a person was your mum?
My mum was the most loving and supportive person that I’ve ever known. She was the central hub of our family, which is no small role as I have three brothers and three sisters, all with children of their own. My mum and dad’s house was always where everyone gathered. Everywhere we went my mum made friends with people, generally several during each round I played if she was there following! She was just always so bubbly and positive that people tended to gravitate towards her; her happiness was infectious.
What life lessons have you learnt from her?
To treat people how I’d like to be treated myself. My mum treated everyone the same regardless of who they were. She was equally happy to laugh at herself as much as at others. She also taught me to value my family more than anything else and this has helped us all through the past few weeks.
Given the huge success of the Solheim, why does women’s golf in Europe still not get the exposure it deserves?
If only we knew the answer to that! Women’s sport doesn’t tend to get the coverage that men’s does, other than perhaps tennis and athletics.
Golf seems to suffer in the same way that football, rugby and cricket do when it comes to the women’s teams. Because our tour and events aren’t as rich as the men’s ones we can’t afford such extensive TV production which probably doesn’t help, so we tend to get shown at not quite the peak times.
What are your plans for playing in the States down the road?
I plan to go to the LPGA Q School later this year as I’d like to have my card there for next year so that I can play both tours. I love playing in Europe but I’d just like to be playing against the top players in the world on a more regular basis than I am now.
The game seems to be getting more global so hopefully Europe will become a fairly central point and remain a good base.