Why three top amateurs chose Muirfield over Chambers Bay | Golf News and Tour Information

GULLANE, Scotland — In chronological order, the best courses have always offered several shot options, before demanding decisive decision-making and solid execution. But sometimes an element of choice is introduced before a championship even begins. Or championships. Which was the case for three of the amateur competitors at Muirfield this week for the AIG Women’s British Open.

Like, say, the decision to go for the long carry on the water, the choices before the three women were obvious and simple. But the final implementation could only be reached after careful consideration. This is how Rose Zhang, Anna Davis and Ingrid Lindblad are in Scotland rather than Washington State. With the Women’s British Open ending on Sunday, there wasn’t enough time for any of the three to travel to Seattle and the Chambers Bay course that will host the US Women’s Amateur, starting Monday morning.

So it had to be one or the other. Both were logistically impossible.

For Zhang, the decision was in some ways difficult, but in another way not difficult at all. The world’s No. 1 amateur, the 19-year-old is a former US Women’s Amateur winner and current NCAA champion. With a record like that, it’s safe to assume the Californian has big ambitions when she inevitably steps up to the pro ranks. So it was that a chance to test himself against the absolute best in the game outweighed an opportunity to achieve something for the second time.

“Both events are so prestigious that it would have been hard to make a bad choice,” said Zhang, who is tied and the only amateur to have made it halfway. “But I really wanted to play here. Muirfield is such a special place and I don’t know when I can come back. The female amateur has a special place in my heart. But I wanted to enjoy the major experience while I can still get it as an amateur.

“It really sucks to have to miss the Am, but the schedule is so difficult,” she continued. “I was exempt from the Evian Masters last month and it would have been very difficult to go home after that and then come back. finally understand it.

Davis, winner of this year’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur, made her decision quicker. At just 16, the California left-hander has enjoyed “so many opportunities” since winning at home the Masters and one of them was the chance to play her first Women’s British Open.

“Basically I decided to take advantage of as many things as possible,” said Davis, who shot 76-75 to miss the cut at Muirfield. “The US Amateur is obviously on my to-do list, but it’s always been one of my goals to play in an LPGA event and the major championships. That’s why I’m here.

“It was not an easy decision. But I thought it would be fun to come here and play some real golf. It’s my first time and, yeah, it’s completely unlike anything I’ve played growing up in California. It was exciting, however, and a great experience. It was so difficult to come here and play well my first time.

Davis’ biggest problems came, ironically, in the area of ​​commitment. During two days of almost constant crosswinds, she struggled to throw shots “over there above the bunkers” in the hope that they would “come back”.

“They do, of course,” she said. “But it takes courage and it’s hard to trust. So much confidence. But I don’t regret coming here. There will be other American amateurs for me, but not many Women’s Opens at Muirfield. Being so different, this week’s class was the best part of my trip. There is so much history. I just wanted to be part of the first Women’s Open played here.

Of the three players, Lindblad had perhaps the easiest decision to make, given how difficult the moves are at the moment. For the Swede, who finished T-11 at the US Women’s Open in May but shot 74-76 to miss the cut here, a trip to Seattle followed by at least two more transatlantic flights held little appeal. .

“I’ve always wanted to play in the American amateur,” said the 22-year-old, soon-to-be senior LSU, who pre-qualified for Muirfield with a 65-under par at North Berwick last Monday. “But it never seems to fit into the European calendar very well. Also, Seattle is so far away. So it would have been a long way to go for just one tournament. I should have gone there and then returned to Sweden before to go back to school. The dates are not good. So it was a relatively easy decision to make, even if I had to qualify just to be here.

“Besides, it’s been fun,” she continued. “My long game just hasn’t been good enough the last two days. If you hit him in the wrong place here, you get punished. And when you’re not that close to the pins, it’s hard to do anything. It was really my story.

All in all, then, the American female fan shouldn’t feel too bad. Those who decided to play in the South East of Scotland rather than the North West of the United States all had their reasons. Good ones, even if, in the end, the execution varied.

Michael C. Ford