Competing at one of golf’s greatest tests for the first time since 2011 are 144 of the world’s best female players including World No.1 Nelly Korda, seven-time Major champion and Hall of Famer, Inbee Park, and home-favourite Georgia Hall who won the championship in 2018. However, it might be golf’s next generation of stars to look out for if history were to repeat itself in Scotland.

Buoyed by defending champion Sophia Popov’s victory at Royal Troon, which saw the 28-year-old German capture her maiden Major title in only her second championship appearance, the highest ranked LPGA and LET rookies head to the AIG Women’s Open full of hope with Ireland’s Leona Maguire, American Yealimi Noh and Thailand’s Attaya Thitikul leading the charge.

Maguire and Thitikul are no strangers to the AIG Women’s Open, having both lifted the Smyth Salver, awarded to the low amateur, in 2016 and 2018 and 2019 respectively, but are now blazing their own trail in the professional ranks.

Leona Maguire, the 2016 Smyth Salver winner, will compete in the 2021 AIG Women's Open as a professional. PHOTO: R&A.

A links specialist, Maguire is a former World Amateur Golf Ranking No.1 and has lifted numerous amateur titles including the Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship, the Irish Women’s Amateur Close Championship and the Scottish Women’s Amateur Strokeplay.

This season, the 26-year-old has recorded two runner-up finishes on the LPGA as well as a record-equalling final round of ten-under-par 61 at the 2021 Amundi Evian Championship.

Thailand’s latest prodigy, 18-year-old Thitikul, first emerged onto the world stage winning the 2018 Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific and is now a three-time Ladies European Tour winner and currently leads the Race to Costa del Sol, having captured the Tipsport Czech Ladies Open as well as finishing inside the top-five on five occasions.

America’s Yealimi Noh finished third at the 2021 Amundi Evian Championship and is 31st on the Rolex Women’s Golf World Rankings.

Seeking to become Ireland’s first female major champion, Maguire, said, “It would be a dream come true to win the AIG Women’s Open. I love links golf and I hope my previous experience in this Championship and at Carnoustie will stand me in good stead. Irish fans are some of the most passionate in the world and I am so proud to have the opportunity to bring this title home.”

Thitikul added, “I will never forget winning the Smyth Salver, it gave me a feeling that I belonged among some of the best players in the world and it helped to set me up for the next stage of my career. I am enjoying my first year on the LET and I can’t wait to compete at the AIG Women’s Open as a professional for the first time.”