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The Women's Open preview: Rose Zhang hoping to bloom at Walton Heath

This week sees the final of the five Women's Majors of 2023 when Walton Heath in Surrey hosts the AIG Women's Open.

It looks like being a stellar field of the world’s top players, with South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai defending the title she won in a play-off at Muirfield last year.

WhatAIG Women’s Open
WhereWalton Heath Golf Club, Tadworth, Surrey
When Thursday 10th August - Sunday 13th August 
How to watchSky Sports Golf
OddsMinjee Lee 12/1, Hyo Joo Kim 14/1, Celine Boutier 16/1, Nelly Korda 16/1, Rose Zhang 16/1

This is the first time that Walton Heath has hosted the Women’s Open, which is traditionally played on links courses, and there are a host of players who will fancy their chances of claiming the fifth Major of the campaign.

A total of 144 players will be teeing up and all of the world top 50 will be in attendance, including France’s Celine Boutier, who has won her last two tournaments.

A lot of attention will be placed on Rose Zhang, who has created plenty of headlines in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour.

She won the Americas Open and then went on to finish in the top ten in her first three Majors, so it will be interesting to see how she gets on at 16/1.

Linn Grant, who won the PGA Tour’s Scandinavian Mixed in a field that included male competitors by nine shots last year, is rated a 20/1 chance.

Course details

There are two courses at Walton Heath and the best holes of both have been combined in a composite lay-out.

The venue is no stranger to hosting big tournaments after it staged the 1981 Ryder Cup, the 2011 Senior Open and the British Masters in 2018. It is also regularly used as the British venue for US Open qualifying.

The fairways are lined with trees and there is heather to avoid to the side, so accurate hitting can prove to be the key to success.

Keeping the ball in play should make the three par fives reachable, but it will be a tough start with few birdies anticipated on the opening five holes, all of which are par fours.

Wind can be an issue at Walton Heath, but they are not expected to be that strong this week. Showers are expected on Friday but the rest of the tournament should be dry.

Three to follow

Celine Boutier

It looks like being a competitive contest in Surrey, but no player comes into the tournament in better form than France's Celine Boutier.

She claimed her first Major victory on home soil when she won the Evian Championship last month, having finished third in her previous effort at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational.

But Boutier did not want to rest there and went on to post another success at the Women’s Scottish Open at Dundonald last week, which should stand her in excellent stead for a bold challenge this week.

She was sixth in the Women’s Open in 2019 and tied for seventh at Muirfield 12 months ago, so she will have plenty of supporters at 16/1.

Minjee Lee

Australian Minjee Lee is a perennial challenger for these tournaments and the 2022 US Open champion deserves respect, having finished no lower than 11th in the last five runnings of the Women’s Open.

Precise driving and iron play will be vital at Walton Heath this week and that plays to Lee’s strengths, as she is ranked the seventh best player between tee and green on the LPGA Tour.

She was 13th at Dundonald last week, but that was a remarkable performance considering she started the tournament with a round of 80.

Subsequent efforts of 66, 68 and 66 showed she is in a mean spell of form and at 12/1 she looks a good bet to win her third Major.

Ruoning Yin

Much of the attention will shine on Rose Zhang this week after her excellent start to her LPGA Tour career, but another 20-year-old from China could make a big impression this week.

Ruoning Yin performed well to finish third at the Scottish Open after an opening 74 and, while she makes her debut in the Women’s Open, she is already a Major winner having triumphed at the Women’s PGA Championship in June.

She is ranked sixth from tee to green and eighth off the tee, so Yin can make a big impression at 33/1.

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