When Karen Lunn won the AIG Women’s Open at the Woburn Duke’s Course in 1993, she knew she had achieved something special.
The Australian, who was 27 years old at the time, produced a dominant victory to claim the title. Lunn won by eight strokes, still the third-largest winning margin in history. Now, 27 years later, Lunn is still amazed at her accomplishment.
“I don’t think it really hits me until every year when I go back to the Women’s Open,” Lunn said. “They have all the pictures of previous champions, and it’s pretty special to look up there and see your photo and the scores that you had.
“It makes it more real again, I guess, in a way. It’s kind of a weird feeling to see your photo up there with all those other amazing golfers, so it’s just so special.”
Lunn most certainly belongs in that class of player, and is one of the most influential golfers in the last 30 years on the circuit. After winning the AIG Women's Open in 1993, she went on to win the LET order of merit that year and eventually become the Tour’s Chairman of the Board in 2004.
Her lasting legacy is perhaps most prominent in the AIG Women’s Open, however, as she helped to inspire a new generation of great Australian golfers in the event. One of that new generation included the most successful golfer in the history of the AIG Women’s Open, Karrie Webb.
“At the time you're just playing a golf tournament, you're so into what you're doing. But when you're walking down that last hole, and you have the gallery there, you can't really describe it.” Karen Lunn
While Lunn’s legacy lives on through the likes of Webb, her own personal achievements have stood the test of the time. And now, at 54, that winning feeling for Lunn is as fresh as it ever was.
“Playing at a Women’s Open, I have goosebumps thinking about all the experiences I've had,” Lunn said. “At the time you’re just playing a golf tournament, you’re so into what you’re doing. But when you’re walking down that last hole, and you have the gallery there, you can’t really describe it.”
“I remember 1993 like it was yesterday. It’s such a wonderful memory to have and I know that anyone who’s ever had that experience will feel exactly the same. The feeling is just incredible and it’s something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.”
When the AIG Women’s Open returns to Royal Troon in August, the world’s best golfers will all be looking to follow in Lunn’s footsteps, and the Australian believes the desire to claim this trophy is as strong on Tour as for any other.
“The event now, it’s a major championship,” she said. “The American girls will say ‘I want to win the US Open,’ but for all of the other players, I’d say the Women’s Open is the one that they want.
“I think Royal Troon is going to be a great test for the women golfers and I know how much the girls are looking forward to playing there.”
Lunn knows better than most the talent on offer in the women’s game, but she also knows how the luck of the draw will play a huge part in South Ayrshire.
“It all depends on the weather, whether it’s an Open Championship or a Women’s Open Championship, you need the luck on your side. When the players go out at 6:30am in the morning, and the last group doesn’t go out until 3:30pm in the afternoon, the weather conditions can vary enormously, so you really do need the luck on your side.
“I think the women’s game now is so blessed with so many great players from so many different countries. It literally could be anyone. It’s going to be an amazing event, it really will be. The golf course is obviously one of the best golf courses in Britain and I can’t wait!”