The Loop

Experience mattered...a lot

August 05, 2007

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland - Nicole Castrale (right) played the final round of the Ricoh Women's British Open with a bandage on her right wrist after injuring it hitting a shot on No. 17 Saturday. "It's OK, just a little sore," she said after her final-round 77 to finish at 19-over-par 311. Castrale still plans to make the trip to Halmstad, Sweden on Monday with six other players likely to be on the U.S. Solheim Cup team that takes on Europe there in September. Natalie Gulbis will skip the Halmstad trip because of continuing issues with her back, according to U.S. captain Betsy King.

You think experience doesn't matter on links courses? Eight amateurs made the cut at the Women's British Open and none of them were Americans. In fact, seven of the eight were from Europe with one being from Korea. Among those playing the weekend on the Old Course was 16-year-old Sally Watson from nearby Elie, Scotland. Watson, who studies at the David Leadbetter Academy in Florida, birdied the first four holes Sunday and went out in 33 but stumbled home in 40 strokes to at 12-over-par 304 for the tournament.

Michelle Wie has played 11 full rounds in LPGA events this year to a stroke average of 77.09. Including the two rounds in which she has withdrawn she has played 223 holes in LPGA tournaments a cumulative 75 strokes over par - an average of almost exactly one bogey every three holes. Next up for her is the CN Canadian Open at Royal Mayfair Golf & Country Club in Edmonton Aug. 16-19 and the Safeway Classic at Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Portland, Ore., the next week.

Remarkably, there was no logo-dated merchandise on sale to commemorate the first women's professional tournament at the Old Course. You'd think there would be something that said: "2007 Ricoh Women's British Open, Old Course St. Andrews." Local merchants are also disappointed at the turnout. It certainly is nowhere near the 45,000 a day that show up to watch the men in the Open Championship. In fact, the crowds are down slightly from the 17,000 a day last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

One last thought on St. Andrews: I'll have the haggis with a side of mashie niblick.

--Ron Sirak

(Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)