It’s a myth that American golfers are too soft for tough conditions. Matt Kuchar, for example, knuckled down in dreadful weather for the third round of the Scottish Open a fortnight ago at Dundonald Links and benefitted from that experience to go close in the Open Championship last weekend.
Now Mo Martin is hoping the exact same preparation at the Ayrshire venue can give her a chance of claiming a second title triumph in four years in the Ricoh Women’s British Open when the golfing spotlight switches to the east coast next week for the first staging of a major at Kingsbarns.
It features every player in the world’s top 20, with the likes of third-ranked Lexi Thompson, two-time major winner In Gee Chun and 2016 US Women’s Open champion Brooke Henderson joining the players from a star-studded cast for the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open.
It’s a well-known fact, of course, that the men’s Scottish Open boasts a great record in helping players get their games ready for the Open Championship, with five of the last seven Claret Jug recipients having played in the home of golf the previous week.
Jordan Spieth, last weekend’s winner, was one of those exceptions, but seven of the top 10 at Royal Birkdale had headed there from Dundonald Links, including runner-up Kuchar, and Martin, for one, is delighted to be getting a rare taste of seaside golf this week before turning her attention to trying to regain a title she claimed in tough conditions at Royal Birkdale in 2014.
“I’m really happy I came to play this week because it’s given me the chance to lock back into the mentality of seeing your shots in this wind and it’s a mentality I love,” said the 34-year-old Californian. “You’ve got to be creative and that’s the one thing I like the most about it. We haven’t played in these conditions the entire year and it challenges every element of every person’s game.”
One thing for sure is that Martin has the mental strength to cope with any sort of adversity that she might face in the fourth women’s major of the season. After just seven holes in her opening round at Dundonald Links on Thursday, she was eight-over-par before covering the next 28 in a brilliant five-under. “I can be my harshest critic, and I’m super proud of myself,” she said of that spectacular turnaround in extremely tough conditions.
World No 2 Ariya Jutanugarn defends the title at Kingsbarns in a field that currently includes four Scots – 2009 winner Catriona Matthew, as well as Carly Booth, Kylie Henry and Pamela Pretswell – with the possibility of that number being bolstered after tomorrow’s final qualifier at the Castle Course on the outskirts of St Andrews.
Home hopefuls include Gemma Dryburgh, Vicky Laing, Kelsey MacDonald, Heather Macrae, Michele Thomson, Jane Turner and Sally Watson, with Laura Davies and Paula Creamer the two biggest names involved in in that 18-hole shootout. Davies, a former winner, is trying to extend her streak of 31 consecutive appearances in the event by coming through a battle for approximately 20 spots.