Six champions from the women’s game had an unforgettable experience at The 150th Open as they participated in the R&A Celebration of Champions.
A regular feature ahead of Opens at St Andrews, the Celebration of Champions has previously involved past winners of The Open, but was this year expanded to include champions from women’s golf, amateur golf and disability golf, breathing new life into the event ahead of a landmark Championship.
Four AIG Women’s Open Champions – Anna Nordqvist, Georgia Hall, Catriona Matthew and Dame Laura Davies – were included in the field, together with Louise Duncan and Jess Baker, the last two winners of the Women’s Amateur Championship. All six are entered into the 2022 AIG Women’s Open.
Staged in front of a healthy crowd on the Monday prior to The 150th Open, the Celebration of Champions saw teams of three and four play over four holes of the iconic Old Course - the 1st, 2nd, 17th and 18th – with the best two scores on each hole counting.
Hall received a plum draw as she partnered Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lee Trevino – who boast 25 men’s major titles between them, including six Opens – in the final group of the day.
The star quartet were also joined by the great Jack Nicklaus on the 18th hole as they posed for photos on the iconic Swilcan Bridge.
Hall shared an image of that special moment on Instagram, with the caption: “What dreams are made of.”
The winner of the 2018 AIG Women’s Open also made a positive impression on McIlroy, who said: “I was super impressed. I’d never seen her hit it before. But I think she's got such a great pedigree in the R&A Championships. She won the Girls' Amateur then the Women's and then obviously going on to win the AIG Women's Open.
“It was very, very cool to be a part of."
Hall’s team tied for second in the event, along with Davies, who played with 2019 Open Champion Shane Lowry and reigning Boys Amateur Champion Jack Bigham.
Reigning AIG Women’s Open Champion Nordqvist played arguably the shot of the day as she struck the flag with her approach to the second hole. Nordqvist was alongside Baker, 149th Open Champion Collin Morikawa and Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion Keita Nakajima in the first group.
They finished in a share for fifth, as did Matthew and Duncan in the company of Padraig Harrington and Francesco Molinari.
The event was won by a quartet of past Open winners - Sir Nick Faldo, Zach Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen and John Daly – but the result was certainly secondary to the memories made for players and fans alike.