Women’s British Open

Ricoh Women’s British Open 2011

Tseng wins the Ricoh Women’s British Open title as the competitors queue up to praise the Championship course.

Yani Tseng consolidated her reputation as the world’s finest woman golfer when she closed with a three under par 69 to win the 2011 Ricoh Women’s British Open over the Championship course at Carnoustie.

The World No. 1 from Taiwan put together rounds of 71, 66, 66 and 69 to finish four shots ahead of America’s Brittany Lang on 12 under par 272 and claim the £239,047 first prize. Sophie Gustafson, from Sweden, closed strongly with a fine four under par 68 to finish on 277 while Korea’s Amy Yang carded a battling five under par 67 to claim fourth place on ten under par 278.

The top home challenger was Carnoustie Country ambassador, Catriona Matthew, the 2009 Ricoh Women’s British Open champion, who dropped two shots at the 72nd hole but still claimed a share of fifth place alongside third round leader, Caroline Masson on 279.

The Smyth Salver, awarded to the leading amateur, was won by 2010 US Women’s Amateur champion, Danielle Kang, who closed with a level par 72 to finish nine shots ahead of 2010 European Women’s Amateur champion, Sophia Popov, from Germany, on two over par 290.

Tseng started the final round two shots behind Masson and was momentarily three shots in arrears when she took five on the 394-yard par-4 opening hole. However, she drew level when the German dropped two shots on the 320-yard par-4 third and then forged ahead with birdies at the sixth and 11th.

Even back-back bogeys at the 12th and the 13th, the latter after her tee shot had struck the pin and ricocheted off the green, did not deter her as she cruised home with birdies on the 14th, 17th and 18th.

Tseng’s win was her second in-a-row at the Ricoh British Women’s Open and was also her fifth Major victory in a glorious 37-month spell stretching back to the McDonald’s LPGA Championship in 2008.

The previous month, the Taiwanese player won her second LPGA title by a remarkable 10 shots to become the youngest woman player to win four Majors at the tender age of 22 years, 5 months and 3 days. Now, after her success at Carnoustie, it looks like being only a matter of time before she hones in on Annika Sorenstam’s haul of 10 Majors, which was completed when the great Swede captured her third and last US Women’s Open at Newport Country Club in 2006.

Tseng admitted she was nervous before her round but soon settled into producing the sort of metronomic golf that has characterised her play over the last few years.

“I was very nervous before we started, my stomach was hurting,” she admitted. “Normally, when I come from behind, I don’t feel nervous, but today was different.

“Last year helped a lot, though. I felt like I was able to learn from my mistakes. I think I have done really well to be patient and to control the whole round today.

“This feels very special,” she added. “I am very happy and very appreciative. I mean it’s wonderful, especially winning on this golf course, in the Home of Golf. It’s an honour for me to be part of this. I did a really good job and I’m very proud of myself.”

The new champion was one of a large number of competitors who lavished praise on the Championship course during a week bless with tranquil weather.

“I love this course. I love links golf and this is a great place to play it,” said Tseng.

“There are so many ways to play it. You can be aggressive, you can play safe, you can hit driver or you can hit iron. You need so much creativity on this golf course. But, above all else, you need to be patient. I’m just so excited to be here.”

Suzann Pettersen, Europe’s highest ranked player, was equally effusive about the course

“Of all the links I have played the British Open on, I think this is my favourite,” she said.” I think it’s a very fair course. It’s a great test of golf.”

“Carnoustie is definitely one of the top five courses I have played,” proclaimed England’s Melissa Reid. “You need to drive well because, if you can do that, you can eliminate a lot of the trouble. I think it’s a terrific course and it’s also in superb condition.”

“I had heard a lot about Carnoustie before I got here and it has certainly lived up to my expectations,” said former teenage sensation, Michele Wie. “It’s very interesting and it has got a lot of character. In fact, I’d say it’s unique.”

“I love this golf course,” agreed Wie’s compatriot, Paula Creamer, “It’s by far one of the best links courses I have played. It’s hard, but it’s fair. I think it tests every aspects of your game. You have to hit all kinds of shots, and that’s what I like.”