The recent run of links golf on the professional stage continues this week as the LPGA and Ladies European Tours head to Scotland for the Women’s Scottish Open.
Despite falling between two majors, last week’s Evian Championship and next week’s AIG Women’s Open, a strong field heads to the Ayrshire coast as the best players in the game try and cram in some extra links golf before a historic event at Muirfield.
An LET standalone event until 2016, the Women’s Scottish Open has become a standout on the calendar for both the players and fans, with the links element an always intriguing prospect while an impressive list of past winners, and near winners, suggests an exciting event again this year.
A strong Aussie contingent heads to Dundonald Links in the hope of continuing the country’s recent successes at the top levels of the men’s and women’s game.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: American Ryann O’Toole finally saluted in an LPGA tournament at Dumbarnie Links in 2021 when she claimed a three shot victory.
RIGHT: Ryann O'Toole broke her duck with victory at this event last year following an exceptional final round. PHOTO: David Cannon/Getty Images.
O’Toole signed for an eight birdie, no bogey final round of 64 to reach 17-under-par. Kiwi Lydia Ko recording a Sunday 63 to share second with Atthaya Thitikul, the pair a shot ahead of former World No.1 Ariya Jutanugarn.
COURSE: For the fourth time, Dundonald Links will welcome the Women’s Scottish Open having established itself as a regular tournament venue across a variety of Tours.
Host of the men’s Scottish Open in 2017, European Tour qualifying, the Boys Amateur, Senior Open qualifying and The Open Final Quualifying from next year, Dundonald is not an ancient Scottish links but offers everything golfers, and television viewers look for in the purest form of golf.
The first Dundonald Links was laid out by Open Championship winner Willie Fernie in 1911, but military usage during the two World Wars, including as a practice location for the D-Day landings, left the piece of land nothing like the course it was.
In 2003, Loch Lomond Golf Club purchased the property and charged Kyle Phillips with producing something special, as he did at Kingsbarns.
Since sold on by Loch Lomond, the course now features undulating playing surfaces, gorse bushes, some areas of long rough, pot bunkers, wind as a constant factor and uniquely for linksland, stands of pine trees in parts that frame holes.
Able to tip out at 7,300 yards, the course setup this week will be interesting as some more traditional Scottish weather returns, with Mi Hyang Lee's winning total in 2017, when the LPGA last visited, six-under-par showing how the course’s teeth.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Brooke Henderson is having a week off after claiming a second major but one of the other contenders from France will be among the favourites here this week.
Sharing third last week two shots behind the Canadian was Lydia Ko who now has 10 top-20 finishes this year on the LPGA Tour and a liking for links golf and this event.
The Kiwi star was joint runner-up at this event last year and despite a missed cut at Dundonald in 2017 will like her chances of adding the thistle trophy to her growing collection.
Minjee Lee will be disappointed after a poor showing in her Evian defence last week, and that is perhaps an ominous sign for the rest of the field this week in Scotland.
The West Australian had plenty of expectation on her as the defending champion and reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, and can be forgiven for a mid field finish where a Sunday 69 will have left her travels a little cheerier.
RIGHT: Minjee Lee had a quiet week in France but don't expect the same this week in Scotland. PHOTO: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.
Lee was eighth at Dundonald when the LPGA last came to town and has a game that suits links golf, and could create another unique brother-sister double if she were to win this week.
Scottish hopes lie with a smattering of locals, but if Hannah Green gets it going this week, those hailing from the home of golf, not the least Golf Australia magazine’s John Huggan, will be quick to remind of her Scottish lineage via her mother.
But Green is ours, and despite a mixed bag of results playing links golf shapes as a chance here.
The 25-year-old was slow out of the gates last week before recording rounds of 68-69-68 to take top Aussie honours alongside Steph Kyriacou at Evian, with a game that is perfectly suited to Dundonald and next week at Muirfield.
The key for Green is the one average to poor round an event that have been bobbing up of late and keeping her from another LPGA title, while Kyriacou closed with a 66 in France and showed some links ability at times during this event last year and the Women’s Open.
After an indifferent season, Charley Hull found something last week on her way to a share of third and loves to play the game on this sort of course. Similarly playing well at the Evian and with a good history in Scotland, Atthaya Thitikul is one to keep an eye on here as she chases a second LPGA Tour win and 13th finish inside the top-25 in her rookie year at just 19.
72-HOLE RECORD: 264 (Mi Jung Hur, 2019)
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Rebecca Artis (2015)
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Minjee Lee, Hannah Green, Steph Kyriacou, Su Oh and Whitney Hillier
Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 505 12am – 4am)
Round 2: Saturday (Fox Sports 505 12am – 4am)
Round 3: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 11:20pm – 3am)
Round 4: Sunday (Fox Sports 505 11pm – 3am)
*AEST, check local guides