ARIYA JUTANUGARN DEFENDS AGAINST WORLD-CLASS FIELD.
The stage is set for the 2019 Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club as the first round of the championship which got underway this morning at 7.00am.
Just three weeks after Austrian Bernd Wiesberger triumphed at the East Lothian links, 156 of the world’s best players are set to compete for the $1.5million prize fund with three of the world’s top seven players headlining the field which includes 12 major champions, 19 Solheim Cup players and seven Ladies European Tour Order of Merit winners.
Defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn from Thailand, who returns to Scotland for the first time since winning by a stroke from Minjee Lee last Year, is in devastating form recording top five finishes in three of her last four events.
Returning with fond memories, the 23-year-old, said, “When the car picked me up from the airport I passed the course and pointed to my sister, oh that’s the one, I won there. I brought back all the great memories.”
Despite adding a title to her growing trophy cabinet last year, Jutanugarn continued:
“The course is great but I feel like links is so tough for me. When I come back here I feel like I am complaining to my caddie but he tells me to be patient. I learn new things every day.”
One of the side stories this week, besides the $225,000 first place prize, is the battle for the final qualifying positions on the European Solheim Cup team, with captain Catriona Matthew set to make a couple of tough decisions when she selects her final team at Gleneagles on Monday 12th August.
“I think the winner gets 70 points. If you look mathematically, there is a lot of people who could still potentially play their way in. There is still a big pool. I’m looking at a slightly smaller one, but you have to be ready for that unexpected result.”
With as many as ten players fighting for the last couple of automatic places on the team, Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall, who currently occupies second place on the LET Solheim Cup Rankings, knows what is at stake:
“It’s always been a huge goal and it’s coming closer now, which is nice, because it’s always in the back of your mind and you’re obviously trying to play well, anyway, but trying to play well for Solheim and make sure to be on the team.”
Off the course, and new for 2019 is Ladies Day, which will take place on Saturday 10th August. No golfing experience is required and welcome drinks will be served to all attendees on arrival as well as the opportunity for all attendees to not only watch the golf but also take part in a golf clinic with European Tour coach Gary Nicol and enjoy live music from former Westlife star Brian McFadden and upcoming Scottish artist Hugh Kelly.
In addition to Ladies Day, Solheim Cup Sunday is also new to the 2019 tournament. In support of the Solheim Cup, which takes place at nearby Gleneagles from 9 – 15 September 2019, fans are encouraged to get behind the tournament by wearing Team Europe or Team USA colours to pledge their support of their favourite team in the biennial contest.
The best-dressed fan will receive a special Solheim Cup pin flag signed by all the European Team and there will be on the spot prizes for those that have made the effort.