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Memorable Venue Debuts


Five great championships on visits to new courses

Jiyai Shin with the AIG Women

Royal Troon hosted its first AIG Women’s Open last month, while three further world-class venues in Muirfield, Walton Heath and Royal Porthcawl will also welcome the championship for the first time over the next five years.

With so many exciting new venues joining the AIG Women’s Open rota, we take a look at five occasions where a first visit to a course delivered a memorable championship.

Royal Troon - 2020

The most recent AIG Women's Open venue, Royal Troon hosted a fantastic event in unique circumstances as the 44th playing of the event took place behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sophia Popov was a shock winner on Scotland’s west coast, performing outstandingly across the four days to finish two strokes clear of nearest rival Jasmine Suwannapura.

Troon’s magnificent layout proved challenging but fair throughout. Only four players finished the week under par after gale-force winds buffeted the course in rounds one and two, but the course set-up received widespread praise from players and pundits alike.

The impact of the weather was best evidenced by the scoring average on the sixth hole. The par 5 yielded an average score of 5.76 when played into the teeth of the wind in round one, but it was the easiest hole on the course come Sunday – comfortably the calmest day of the week.

Popov certainly rose to the occasion and showed what was possible over the weekend when conditions eased, carding scores of 67 and 68 to secure a memorable victory and stun the golfing world.

Royal Liverpool - 2012

Eight years before the best players in the world tackled tough conditions at Royal Troon, wild winds had an even more dramatic impact on Royal Liverpool’s first staging of the AIG Women's Open.

Severe gusts resulted in the second round being suspended early on Friday morning, with initial scores on the day declared null and void before the round was started afresh on Saturday.

Jiyai Shin took total control of proceedings when play resumed, carding a sensational eight-under 64 to open up a five-shot lead.

The 2008 champion was not finished there and ended up claiming victory by an impressive nine strokes at nine under par, despite triple-bogeying the first hole of her final round.

Shin’s performance ranks among the finest in the history of the AIG Women’s Open, with no other player able to shoot under par for the championship in gruelling conditions at Hoylake.

Carnoustie - 2011

Yani Tseng is the only player to successfully defend the AIG Women’s Open since it gained major championship status, having done so in thrilling fashion when Carnoustie first hosted the event in 2011.

Tseng, who edged out Katherine Hull to win at Royal Birkdale the previous year, was two behind Caroline Masson heading into the final 18 holes.

Masson struggled on the final day however, enabling Tseng to surge into a four-shot lead at the top of the leaderboard.

Back-to-back bogeys for the reigning champion on 12 and 13 halved her advantage, but Tseng finished in style, birdieing the 14th, 17th and 18th to triumph by four with a superb total of 16 under at Carnoustie.

Yani Tseng celebrates winning the AIG Women's Open in 2011

St Andrews - 2007

One player dominated proceedings when the home of golf staged its maiden AIG Women’s Open in 2007.

A six under par opening round lifted Lorena Ochoa to the top of the leaderboard, and the world number one would remain at the head of affairs until the conclusion of the championship.

Ochoa’s finest display came in round three on a day when strong winds led to a host of high scores. As many of her nearest rivals carded scores in the high 70s and low 80s, Ochoa put together a superb level-par 73 to earn a six-stroke cushion heading into the final 18 holes.

The Mexican then picked up two early birdies on Sunday and her lead never came under serious threat as she finished four clear of Maria Hjorth and Lee Jee-Young to win her first major championship.

Turnberry - 2002

When Turnberry first hosted the AIG Women's Open in 2002, Karrie Webb charged to victory with one of the greatest rounds of her illustrious career.

After beginning the final day three shots off the pace, Webb put together a bogey-free, six-under 66 to finish two clear of fellow Australian Michelle Ellis and Spain’s Paula Marti.

“I felt like all those players ahead of me were going to be very nervous and if I got off to a good start, my name going up the leaderboard might add to that, and I think that’s actually what happened that day,” Webb said. “It’s one of the best rounds that I can remember.”

Webb’s triumph saw her complete a ‘Super Slam’ of five different major wins. She had already won the AIG Women’s Open twice before, but those successes came before the championship attained major status.

Karrie Webb on her way to victory at Turnberry in 2002