What we learned at Royal Liverpool
Marathon girl Shin streets ahead
A FEW so-called experts wrote off the chances of Jiyai Shin and Paula Creamer after the pair were locked in a nine-hole play-off on the LPGA Tour which eventually finished on the Monday.
Three days later the 24-year-old Shin was teeing off at Hoylake, five days later she was firing a quite ridiculous eight-under 64 – a round nobody got within of three shots of all week. The former World No 1 missed one fairway, hit all 18 greens in regulation and needed only 28 putts. The round is the lowest in competition at Royal Liverpool, breaking the mark of 65 set by four players in the 2006 Open Championship.
Afterwards she said it was the best round she had ever played – at the start of the day her target was to get round in one under.
There are few more likeable characters in the game. The Korean has released a couple of CDs of Christian songs in both her native tongue as well as English, and the smile is never far away, even when she missed the last two Majors recovering from hand surgery. Her incredible progress has been far from straightforward. Her mother died in a car crash when Shin was just 16. Her younger brother and sister were seriously injured and spent nearly a year in a hospital and the insurance money funded the beginning of her career.
Four years later she was a Major champion when she won at Sunningdale. Then the conditions were positively idyllic, this time she had to battle just about every element other than snow, much of it coming throughout 36 holes on the final day.
By the end of it all she was nine clear of second, the biggest win in the Open since it became a Major, and the only player under par. She is also now a two-time Major champion.
Creamer, for the record, finished in third spot.
Roll on an earlier date in the calendar
THE good thing about a British Major in September is the extending of the season proper for another two months. The bad thing about a British Major in September is the British weather. As such 48 players were faced with ‘strong winds’ on Friday morning before play was initially suspended at 8.25am.
In the interim the 18 players out on the front nine were a cumulative 52 over before the hooter was thankfully located. Felicity Johnson opened with a nine, Caroline Masson’s scorecard read 6-6-6. Beastly.
The LGU insisted that it was playable when things got underway, the players, not surprisingly, disagreed. Cristie Kerr was one of the ‘Hoylake 48’ and the American saw her ball blown off the tee three times and was then almost blown over herself. Playing partner Erina Hara hit her approach to two feet, by the time she reached the green she was eight feet away. England’s Karen Stupples had to hit a ball while her ball was still oscillating.
The only action was to declare their efforts null and void, move to two rounds on Sunday and reduce the cut to the top 50 players and ties, a move about as popular with the players as sending them on their way in the first place.
No fewer than eight British or Irish amateurs made it to Royal Liverpool and that could have been nine had Portrush’s Stephanie Meadow taken up her invite. Is the British and Irish cycle turning?
TIME will tell quite how good some of our amateurs are but the signs are hugely encouraging. During a bit of a lull in British success – in the last 32 Majors Britain and Ireland have had just one success in Catriona Matthew – the line trotted out is that these things are cyclical.
Well, things could be finally turning. No fewer than eight British or Irish amateurs made it to Royal Liverpool and that could have been nine had Portrush’s Stephanie Meadow taken up her invite.
Five of Meadow’s victorious Curtis Cup team-mates did play and Holly Clyburn and Bronte Law were the star turns, comfortably making the cut before seeing the leading amateur prize go to the precociously talented Lydia Ko of New Zealand.
Of the fancied professionals Melissa Reid and Carly Booth both missed the cut while Laura Davies, playing in her 100th Major, had to withdraw with an injured ankle.
Fellow Solheim Cuppers from Killeen Castle Sophie Gustafson, Suzann Pettersen, Azahara Munoz, Karen
Stupples, Sandra Gal, Caroline Hedwall, Maria Hjorth, Christel Boeljon and Anna Nordqvist all failed to make it to the last two rounds meaning Matthew was the only one to progress.
Tour stars setting the trend
WHILE it is normally not too difficult to follow in the footsteps of the fashionistas of the professional tours there were some weird and wonderful outfits and accessories on show.
England’s Rebecca Hudson made the most of the Best of British themed day on the Saturday with a pair of Union Jack trousers.
Cristie Kerr was one of a number of players to sport a pair of woollen ear muffs in the chilly conditions while Mika Miyazato was in her trademark orange clothes in the final round (the Japanese word for tangerine is Mikan).
Not many would dare, let alone get away with, a pair of above-the-knee hooped stockings but Paula Creamer managed it. Given it was late September it was some effort though the British climate finally got the better of the American as she ended the day in a set of waterproof bottoms.
The first of many Asian Slams
IT is difficult to say which is more impressive, the fact that Asian golfers have pulled off a Grand Slam this year or that World No 1 Yani Tseng was not part of it. Sun Young Yoo, Shanshan Feng (the first Chinese player), Na Yeon Choi and now Shin were the four champions and the first three were all first-time winners. The Asian stars have now won the last seven Majors.
Se Ri Pak was the first to lift a Major trophy in 1998 and twice, in 2008 and last year, have the Asian stars won three of the four big ones. In total the continent now have 21 victories, in that same period the United States have 14.
Their dominance is in stark contrast to the men’s game where in 423 Majors played since the first Open in 1860 Korean YE Yang, who beat Tiger Woods at the PGA three years ago, has been the only Asian winner.