EVIAN-LES-BAINS, FRANCE | When
you ask Cristie Kerr what she thinks of
Carnoustie, home of this week’s Ricoh
Women’s British Open, she says, “I love
it. It’s beautiful.” And when the current
world No. 2 sees you start at her choice
of words, she hurries to explain.
“I mean it’s beautiful to me,” she
said. “I’ve only seen it on TV and in
magazines but I like the idea of playing
on a man-size course, one that is so
famously tough. It’s a big challenge for
all of us. The girls can’t wait.”
Kerr has rather more on her agenda
this week than merely the golf. Last year,
the LGU followed up a request from the
Round Table’s “Make a Wish” people and
arranged an introduction between Kerr
and an 11-year-old fan, Stephanie Bal-
lay, who was suffering from leukemia.
Kerr happily complied and she and
Morgan Pressel met the girl at Birkdale.
They presented her with a set of Callaway
clubs and helped with her swing.
Since then, Kerr has stayed in touch
with Ballay by e-mail, never failing to
send a cheerful message when she has
to undergo some new treatment.
“I guess I just connected with her,”
Now Ballay is in remission and,
though Kerr said nothing about this until
asked, Kerr is flying the entire family over
from Guernsey for the Ricoh week.
“It was going to happen at the
Solheim Cup but I realised I wouldn’t be
able to spend enough time with Stepha-
nie there,” she explains.
Miki Saiki, the half-way leader in
Evian, travels with 50 different pairs
of earrings. Club selection must be a
breeze against choosing which set of
earrings she should don in the morning.
After finishing outside the top 50 at
the U.S. Women’s Open, Michelle Wie
switched to a belly-putter for the Evian
Masters. As B.J., her father, would confirm, the switch was her own idea.
There was no instant miracle as Wie
missed the halfway cut at 6-over par.
However, she was apparently feeling
more comfortable with the implement.
“It could be that it suits her better
because she’s tall,” suggested B.J.
“When she’s reaching over a shorter
putter there are days when she simply
doesn’t look comfortable at all.”
It goes without saying that there will
be plenty who disapprove but an even
longer putter would not seem to be do-
ing Maria Hjorth any harm. The Swede,
who was playing in the same party as
Wie over the first two days, has won
twice in the last 12 months.
Would you believe that Catriona
Matthew who, along with her husband,
was caught in a fire in her hotel at the
Evian in the week before her 2009 British Open win, was back in precisely the
same room last week.
In 2009, a disgruntled employee had
thrown a petrol bomb to start a fire in
which Graeme and Catriona were prime
movers in running up and down the
corridors and telling people to get out.
“They saved lives,” says Christina Kim.
Since that dark day, the hotel has
had a lick of paint and a new fire alarm.
Entirely enough to satisfy someone with
Matthew’s calm disposition.
Normally, Laura Davies would be far
too unassuming to send a message to
an Open winner. In the case of Darren
Clarke, though, she did not hesitate.
“I’ve met him on several occasions
and felt I knew him well enough to
get in touch. I just wanted to say that I
never enjoyed watching an Open more.”
Davies has a back problem which she
puts down to having to sit in a van for an
hour during one of the many weather
Michelle Wie made
the switch to a
belly putter for
the Evian Masters,
but still failed to
make the cut after
rounds of 76-73.
delays at the U.S. Women’s Open.
“I’d played 33 holes of my Friday 36
when we were called off and, the longer
I sat in that van, the more my back was
hurting. I can feel it as I hit through the
ball and, even if I can’t feel it, I think
it’s going to hurt and I rear up on the
shot. When it happens, the ball can go
As indeed it did until she finished
birdie-eagle for the second-round 76,
but still missed the cut.
With all that fuss from the newspapers about the Open being played at the
male-only venue of Royal St George’s,
you would have thought that one or
more of the officials would by now have
brought up the subject of inequality in
the newspaper world.
Most days, a good 90 percent of the
sports’ sections in the English papers
is devoted to men. Women’s golf used
to get its share of space but today,
other than in Scotland, it scarcely gets
a mention apart from in the week of the
Ricoh Women’s British Open.
Suzann Petterson, who closed with
a 68 for sixth place, played all weekend
with a black armband in place following
the shootings in her homeland of Norway. Petterson learned of the disaster
before she went out to play on Friday.
Karen Stupples, who finished inside
the top 30, hit four shots at the short 17th
yet still contrived to walk off the green
with a par. How? Because she was given
another shot after her first had cannoned
into overhead telephone cables. l