Torrential rain, lost clubs and a catalogue of injuries. It wasn’t exactly the ideal build-up to the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry but the world’s best female golfers took it all in their stride.
Some were even relishing the challenge. “I seem to play better in harder conditions,” suggested American Stacy Lewis, the winner at St Andrews two years ago when gale-force winds caused havoc.
Turnberry is an awesome course. It’s always been on my bucket listMichelle Wie
“I just think it separates the field. It’s all in the mind-set. If you enjoy the challenge of the rain and the conditions then it’s a whole different deal than if you’re dreading teeing it up every day.”
And after an adventurous start to the week, the world No 3 certainly wasn’t going to let some wet weather ruin her trip back to Scotland.
On Monday, she had arrived on the Ayrshire coast without her clubs. They didn’t make her connecting flight from London’s Heathrow to Glasgow.
“I was calling British Airways all afternoon and they told me to call back in 24 hours,” she explained. “But that wasn’t going to work.”
Fortunately, one of the caddies had a friend who worked in Terminal 5 baggage at Heathrow and he managed to get them on the last plane to Glasgow.
So Lewis and her caddie Travis Wilson jumped into the rental car to go and pick them up. However, there was another hiccup when the car suffered a puncture five miles from the airport.
“We hit a kerb. So we had to figure out how to change the tyre and we were holding up our phones as flashlights. But we got going again and, luckily, the clubs were there and we eventually got back to Turnberry at 12:30 am,” she continued. “But the whole story. You couldn’t make it up.”
Another American, Mo Martin, produced a touch of magic to win the title at Royal Birkdale last year. But a thumb injury the following week left her, at times, wondering if her spectacular final-hole tap-in eagle would mark the end of her major career.
So she is just relieved to be at Turnberry this week, and fit enough to defend the title. “I hurt it hitting a three wood shot a week after Birkdale,” explained the 32-year-old who has risen from No 99 to No 44 in the world rankings since her Lancashire victory.
“I tried not to think about not being able to play again. But I knew if it didn’t get better… I mean, the pain was excruciating. It was like a pinched disc in my thumb. I would feel the pain at the top of the swing. I was told there was no surgical options. When I heard that, I cried. Not that I wanted an operation – but at least it would have been an option.” She had to pull out of the final 2014 major, the Evian Championship in France, but she had a splint inserted eight months ago and now she manages to play with just a strapping on the left thumb.
“But it was devastating,” she continued. “I was playing fantastic at the time of the British and was in contention the week after.
“But that was when I suffered the injury and had to back away for two months.”
Michele Wie is another suffering from injury. She has hip and ankle problems and was wearing a surgical boot on her left foot.
“It’s just for protection,” she insisted. “But I wouldn’t be playing if it wasn’t the British Open.
“But Turnberry is an awesome course. It’s always been on my bucket list. I like it when it rains and the wind blows over here. It makes things interesting.”
Eighteen-year-old Lydia Ko, the world No 2, played in the Scottish Open at nearby Dundonald Links, and she reckoned the top-five finish was ideal preparation.
“This is the hardest tournament to prepare for,” claimed the New Zealander who reached world No 1 at the start of the year before being overtaken by South Korea’s Park Inbee.
“The big thing on a links course is to stay out of the pot bunkers and away from the long rough. Accurate driving is the key.”
Seven Scots are in the field, including Troon amateur Connie Jaffrey. Carly Booth and Vikki Laing made it through the qualifying to join Pamela Pretswell, Kylie Walker, Sally Watson and the 2009 champion, Catriona Matthew.