Having been introduced to links golf at Carnoustie, Canadian Brooke Henderson reckons she is well- equipped for this week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open on the opposite side of the Tay Estuary.
“I played my first British Amateur in 2012 at Carnousite,” recalled the 19-year-old as she prepared for the fourth women’s major of the season at Kingsbarns, which is looking fantastic, both in terms of the course and infrastructure, for the biggest test so far in its relatively short existence.
“It was a very big and very good introduction. It really taught me exactly what links golf is all about. Some of those bunkers there were the deepest I’ve ever seen. You know, I really like it over here. It’s very different, but it’s really exciting and so hopefully I can play well this week.”
By her own admission, last year’s Women’s PGA champion – a dainty lass – could have her work cut out if it gets really windy, as could be the case on at least one day later in the week on a course where Peter Uihlein had a chance of carding 59 in the Dunhill Links and Branden Grace once shot 60 in that event but, at the same time, can bare its teeth in testing conditions.
“I’ve had a few goes at links golf and it is very different from what I normally play, but I feel like I just continue to get a little bit better at it and understand how to play it a little bit better,” she added. “Sometimes when the wind blows, I feel a little bit off balance, so I just need to prepare myself for that this week.”
While the majority of players in the field used last week’s Scottish Open at Dundonald Links as preparation for this event, Henderson was at home re-charging her batteries. “It was good resting and spending time with family and friends that I haven’t seen in a little while,” she said. “I was trying to get ready for this week, and also the Canadian Open, which is in two weeks, and the Portland Classic the week after. I have almost three majors coming up, so I feel like that rest last week will really help keep me mentally and physically strong and ready to compete over the next month. I feel like I’m just as prepared and ready to go as those who played in the Scottish Open, and I’m excited to get started.”
Getting things started on Thursday morning will be Sally Watson, who has been handed the honour of hitting the opening shot at a venue close to her home in Elie. Watson, one of three Scots to survive a 14-player play-off in Monday’s qualifier at the Castle Course, will get the event under way at 6:30am in the company of American Cydney Clanton and Austrian amateur Christine Wolf.
Catriona Matthew, the 2009 winner, is also out early, partnering Anna Nordqvist and Irish amateur Leon Maguire at 7:25am, just ahead of Henderson, Lydia Ko and Michelle Wie.