To celebrate Hinako Shibuno's achievement of winning the AIG Women's Open in 2019 in her debut appearance, we take a look at five of the best debuts in the history of the event.
Hinako Shibuno – 2019
Course: Woburn Marquess
Hinako Shibuno captured hearts and minds in 2019, becoming the first player since the AIG Women’s Open earned major status in 2001 to win in her debut appearance. Pak Se Ri won the inaugural major edition of this event, but it was actually her third appearance in the tournament.
The ‘Smiling Cinderella’ had never played a tournament outside of Japan, let alone a major, when she arrived at Woburn. Coming to the 72nd hole, she faced a 20-foot putt to win the title, and with a smile on her face she holed it to become the first Japanese winner of the AIG Women’s Open since Ayako Okamoto in 1984.
Karrie Webb – 1995
Course: Woburn Duke’s
As a relatively unheralded 20-year-old from Australia, Karrie Webb’s first ever professional victory came at the 1995 AIG Women’s Open when she romped to victory on the Duke’s Course at Woburn.
The most recent player to win on their debut until Shibuno last year, Webb shot rounds of 69, 70, 69 and 70 to outplay the strongest ever AIG Women’s Open field at the time and win by six shots from Jill McGill and Annika Sorenstam.
The eventual seven-time major winner would go on to win the AIG Women’s Open two further times, including once as a major, and is the most successful golfer in the history of the event alongside Sherri Steinhauer.
To add further to her legacy in this event, the World Golf Hall of Famer will make her 25th consecutive AIG Women’s Open appearance in 2020 when she tees it up at Royal Troon.
“Sophie Gustafson is an amazing player who I grew up watching.” Mariajo Uribe on Sophie Gustafson
Yani Tseng – 2008
Course: Sunningdale Old
Fresh off winning her first major championship at the Women’s PGA, Yani Tseng arrived at Sunningdale to make her hotly anticipated debut in the AIG Women’s Open.
Her performance did not disappoint, as the Taiwanese superstar improved each and every day to finish second, with a brilliant final round of 66 following rounds of 70, 69 and 68 respectively.
At just 19 years old, Tseng showed fans a preview of what was to come, as the future world number one would win back-to-back AIG Women’s Opens in 2010 and 2011, becoming only the third player in the history of the event to do so.
Sophie Gustafson – 1998
Course: Royal Lytham & St Annes
In 1998, Sophie Gustafson showed what a fine links player she was when she made her AIG Women’s Open debut at Royal Lytham & St Annes. After an opening round of 78, the Swedish star fought back admirably and had a great chance to win with just two holes to play.
An incredible birdie on the 72nd hole from Sherri Steinhauer, however, secured the first of back-to-back AIG Women's Open titles for the American, pipping Gustafson at the post.
Like Steinhauer, Gustafson built on her performance in 1998. Following a top-10 finish at Woburn the following year, Gustafson returned to the links at Royal Birkdale in 2000 and triumphed to claim the coveted title.
An incredibly consistent force at the AIG Women’s Open, Gustafson registered seven top-10 placings at the tournament in her career, including her victory in 2000 and her wonderful debut in 1998.
Michelle Wie – 2005
Course: Royal Birkdale
Finish: T3 (Low Amateur)
One of the most anticipated debuts in recent history, Michelle Wie’s last major as an amateur would turn out to deliver her best AIG Women’s Open finish to date.
The incredibly talented American had already come close to winning a major as a 13-year-old and, despite her incredible youth and relative inexperience, she was installed as one of the favourites heading into the event.
After starting out with a round of 75, the precocious 15-year-old showed considerable composure to come back and finish in a tie for third, collecting the Smyth Salver for her Low Amateur finish. Remarkably, despite her age, this was already Wie’s fourth top-10 and sixth low amateur title in a major.