Walton Heath hosts the 2023 Women's Open (R&A)
The 2023 AIG Women’s Open, also known as the Women’s British Open is all set to be played at Walton Heath in England from Aug. 10-13. The final major of the season features 10 top amateurs - seven exempted and three qualifiers who joined them through the Final Qualifying at Hankley Common in Surrey, England.
The Smyth Salver is awarded to the leading amateur, provided that the player completes all 72 holes. The winner also receives a silver medal, a tradition similar to the Men’s Low Amateur winner at the British Open.
Let’s meet the 10 amateurs scheduled to play the major this week in England.
The AIG Women’s Open Final Qualifying at Hankley Common in Surrey, England offered a total of 12 spots to 105 players in the field, where World No.1 Ingrid Lindblad of Sweden and World No. 122 Anna Foster made it into the field on Monday itself.
The anticipation for amateur Savannah De Bock from Belgium grew as she faced off against Maddie Szeryk, a player on the Epson Tour from Canada, in the playoff for the last spot. The playoff had been halted yesterday due to poor lighting conditions but was reinitiated at 7:45 AM in England today. Ultimately, it culminated in the victory of the Belgian golfer, solidifying her position in the major tournament.
Ingrid Lindblad - Sweden
23-year-old, World No.1 on the Amateur Golf Rankings and a Louisiana State University graduate from Sweden entered the Final Qualifying at Hankley Common and shot 2-under 70 for the day, which wasn’t enough to guarantee her a spot in the major.
Ingrid later survived a 13-for-five playoff to successfully make it into the field for the major at Walton Heath.
This will mark Lindblad’s fourth appearance in the major (2019, 2021 and 2022); she has missed the cut in each of those appearances.
Anna Foster - Ireland
Anna Foster of Ireland, a senior at Auburn University, ranks 122nd on the Amateur Golf Rankings. She qualified for the Women's Open with a round of 3-under 69, which included a double-bogey on par-5 8th and a bogey on par-3 16th; however, her six birdies in the round came to her rescue to sail through the Final Qualifying at Hankley Common on Monday, August 6th.
Anna was named in Ireland’s Women’s Home Internationals squad in Machynys this week (Aug. 9-11) but Golf Ireland will now have to call up a replacement.
Savannah De Bock - Belgium
Savannah De Bock ranks 32nd on the Amateur Golf Rankings. To earn her spot she had to beat Maddie Szyrek, a pro golfer on the Epson Tour, in a playoff at the Final Qualifying to book the last spot in the field.
17-year-old Savannah, who is headed to join University of Georgia this fall shot 2-under 70 to join 12 others in a 13-for-5 playoff. After four spots were secured and 11 seven other players had bowed out, De Bock and Szyrek were the final two vying for one last spot. The playoff extended over seven additional holes – five on Monday and two today (Tuesday, August 8th) – determining the final player and 1st reserve spots in the field from this intense playoff.
Last year, Savannah earned her way into the major after winning the European Ladies Championship but failed to make it to the weekend rounds.
Saki Baba - Japan
18-year-old Saki Baba from Japan, ranked 4th on the Amateur Golf Rankings was exempted into the field courtesy of her 11 & 9 win over Monet Chun of Canada at the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2022.
Although she was originally slated to defend her U.S. Women’s Amateur title this week at the Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles, she made the strategic choice to participate in the final major championship. This decision stems from her well-deserved exemption earned by triumphing at the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2022, marking her last opportunity for a major exemption.
Elia Galitsky - Thailand
The 16-year-old Thai amateur is ranked 105th on the Amateur Golf Rankings and has been exempted into the field courtesy of her victory at the Women’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Singapore in March 2023.
Eila has played in two other majors this year and has registered a missed cut at the Evian Championship in France and a tied-28th finish at the Chevron Championship in Texas.
Charlotte Heath - England
21-year-old Charlotte Heath, a junior at Florida State University, ranked 19th on the Amateur Golf Rankings was exempted in the field courtesy of her being the top-ranked British or Irish amateur.
A Curtis Cup player in 2021 & 2022, Charlotte has registered a runners-up finish at Valspar Augusta Invitational in March 2023 and followed it with a tied-5th finish at ACC Women’s Championship and a tied-7th at the NCAA Women’s Championship.
Chiara Horder - Germany
Chiara Horder ranked 81st on the Amateur Golf Rankings, recently transferred to Mississippi State from Texas Tech is exempted in the field at AIG Women’s Open courtesy of her triumph at the Women’s British Amateur in June 2023.
The 20-year-old from Germany defeated Anabelle Pancake by 7 & 6 in the 36-hole final at Prince’s Golf Club in Sandwich, United Kingdom to lift the 120th Women’s British Amateur trophy, becoming the third German in the last six years to win the title.
Ting-Hsuan Huang - Chinese Taipei
Ting-Hsuan Huang of Chinese Taipei, a UCLA commit this season, ranked 30th on the Amateur Golf Rankings is exempt in the field this week at the AIG Women’s Open courtesy of her scintillating win at the Women’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Siam Country Club in Thailand in November last.
Earlier in May 2023, Ting-Hsuan Huang shot rounds of 71-66 at Marin Country Club in Novato, California to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open, where she shot 73-77 (+7) to miss the cut at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Julia Lopez Ramirez - Spain
Julia Lopez Ramirez from Spain ranked No.2 on the Amateur Golf Rankings is exempt in the field this week at AIG Women’s Open courtesy of her win at the European Ladies Championship in France last month.
A Mississippi State graduate, Ramirez, shot 70-76-63-67 (12-under 276) to register a win by two strokes over her compatriot Carla Bernat.
The win also marked her third consecutive win for the season, following a win at SEC Women’s Championship and a joint first finish alongside Amanda Sambach at NCAA Women’s Central Regional in May 2023.
Valentina Rossi - Argentina
21-year-old Valentina Rossi, a Michigan State senior, ranked 112th on the Amateur Golf Rankings earned her way into the AIG Women’s Open after a close win at the Women’s Amateur Latin America Championship in November 2022.
This victory not only granted the Argentinian golfer a well-deserved entry into the AIG Women’s Open but also earned her coveted exemptions into the Chevron Championship and Evian Championship. However, despite her immense potential, Valentina missed the cut at both major championships. Now she will be looking to improve upon her performance to close the major season on a high.