Wie says yes to British Open

Michelle Wie has confirmed she’ll play in the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes in July.

Michelle Wie has confirmed she will play in the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes at the end of July.

The 19-year-old has been combining golf with her studies at Stanford University for the past couple of years, but things are different this year as she was able to qualifying for a full membership of the LPGA Tour this year at Q-School and says she will be coming to Royal Lytham in a much more relaxed frame of mind than she was in her previous British Open appearances

Being a member of the LPGA Tour makes a big difference to her attitude, she said in a statement at the weekend.

“I think the fact that I know that I can play more than six tournaments a year allows me to build on my progress each week and work towards getting my first LPGA Tour win.

“I feel like this season represents a ‘fresh start’ for me and I’m able to work towards the goals I set for myself. Obviously winning the Ricoh Women’s British Open would be a huge accomplishment and it is certainly something I want to experience in my career.”

Michelle’s best finish in the Women’s British Open was third in 2005 when she won the leading amateur medal. She is delighted to be returning to Royal Lytham as a professional.

“I’m really looking forward to playing in the Ricoh Women’s British Open this summer,” she said. “I enjoy the challenges that links golf presents and think I’ve have handled it pretty well in the past.

“I played at Royal Lytham in 2006 and finished tied 26th so I will be looking to use that experience to help me improve on that finish.

“I’ve really enjoyed all my visits to the UK and I’ve especially enjoyed the experience of playing on world famous links golf courses in front of the knowledgeable British golf fans.

“Travelling around the world is definitely one of the best things about being a golf professional and I am looking forward to going back to the North West of England.”

Wie will be joining a star-studded field that already includes defending champion, Ji Yai Shin, also the 2009 Kraft Nabisco Champion, US young guns Brittany Lincicome, Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis, Norway’s highly ranked Suzann Pettersen and French star Gwladys Nocera,

But before the entry deadline closes most of the world’s top players are expected to have entered because not only is the Open a women’s major, it has additional importance this year in view of the fact that it will be the final qualifying event before the teams are announced for the 2009 Solheim Cup matches between the USA and Europe.

Shona Malcolm, the Ladies’ Golf Union’s CEO, was “delighted” that Wie would be in the field this year.

“She has a lot of fans in the UK who have followed her career since her phenomenal 3rd place finish as the leading amateur at Royal Birkdale in 2005, Malcolm said.

“I know there were a lot of disappointed youngsters who hoped to see Michelle play last year and they will be thrilled to hear she will be will be returning to Royal Lytham to compete for this coveted title.”

As well as hosting three Women’s British Opens (1998, 2003 and 2006) Royal Lytham has also hosted 10 men’s Open Championships and two Ryder Cup battles.

With 2003 winner Annika Sorenstam, now retired and Sherri Steinhauer, the 1998 and 2006 Champion, currently not playing any competitive golf, North West England golf fans are set to see a new champion crowned at Royal Lytham and St Annes.