Organisers are anticipating a record crowd at the 2006 Weetabix Women’s British Open, to be played at Royal Lytham & St Annes from 3rd to 6th August.
Just over 75,000 spectators attended the Championship the last time it was staged at Lytham in 2003 and more are expected this time, taking advantage of several special offers to watch the best women golfers in the world.
This year’s Championship has attracted a stellar field that includes the World’s No. 1 Annika Sorenstam, defending champion Jeong Jang, recent McDonald’s LPGA Championship winner Se Ri Pak, as well as 16 year-old sensation, Michelle Wie, who created colossal interest while finishing tied third at last year’s Championship at Royal Birkdale.
The field also includes Mexican star, Lorena Ochoa, a two-time victor on this season’s LPGA Tour as well as the resurgent Karrie Webb, a popular winner in 1995, ’97 and 2002. There is also a strong British and Irish challenge headed by Karen Stupples, who won the Championship at Sunningdale in 2004, plus the evergreen Laura Davies, the champion in 1986.
Sorenstam completed a career Grand Slam with a one stroke victory over Se Ri Pak in 2003 and is delighted to be returning to the scene of that previous success. “I am happy to hear the Weetabix British Open is returning to Royal Lytham & St Annes,” said the Swedish World No. 1. “It’s a good test of golf and a nice venue for a Major Championship. Hopefully, the great experiences I had there in 2003 will set me up for another successful week.”
Last year, when the Championship was held at Royal Birkdale, South Korean Jeong Jang completed a rare wire-to-wire victory to claim her first professional title at the 2005 Weetabix Women’s British Open, defeating Sweden’s Sophie Gustafson and another Korean, Young Kim, by a four stroke margin with a four round 16-under par aggregate of 272.
On that occasion, the massed crowds also marvelled at the skill displayed by Michelle Wie from Hawaii, who tied for third place with Swede Liselotte Neumann and also produced the best ever finish by an amateur in the Championship.
Wie, now a professional, will remain one of the star attractions but the favourite might well be 28 year-old Se Ri Pak, who confirmed that she is now back at her formidable best by winning her fifth Major title at the recent McDonald’s LPGA Championship.
This year, Championship organisers have persisted with their avowed intention to make the Weetabix Women’s British Open one of the most accessible events in sport.
The Ladies’ Golf Union is continuing its policy to give free entry to all juniors under 16 years, provided they are accompanied by an adult. Daily adult tickets cost £20 (£5 for pro-am day), an adult season ticket is priced at £50, and senior citizen prices are £16 and £40, respectively. However, a £1 discount will be available on every ticket purchased before 1st July 2006. Additionally, the LGU is also offering two free tickets for every ten adult tickets purchased (£1 discount does not apply). All tickets can be purchased by calling the NEC box office on 08700 109 021 (please have your credit/debit card details ready) or by logging onto www.lgu.org and booking tickets on line.
“We are delighted to announce that we have continued our policy to give free access to the Championship to the under-16s when they are accompanied by an adult,” said Susan Simpson, LGU Director of Championships. “It is something we believe is important and will be beneficial to the future of the game.
“We also believe our adult prices represent wonderful value. For as little as £15, an adult can watch the world’s best women golfers on one of Britain’s finest links courses. It is hardly surprising that interest in tickets is already high.”
Royal Lytham, which has hosted 10 Open Championships, most recently in 2001, will measure 6,480 for this year’s Weetabix Women’s British Open Championship, 172 yards longer than 2003. The back nine has the more significant changes with only the 14th retaining its 2003 yardage of 418 while the other eight holes have increases ranging from nine to 25 yards.
Ladies’ Golf Union www.lgu.org