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  • Alistair Tait

Women’s golf deserves more

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

Anyone who was at Woburn Golf Club last year to watch Hinako Shibuno win the AIG Women’s British Open will welcome the news AIG has extended title sponsorship until 2025. Women’s golf deserves this and more.

There is a slight change; the effervescent Shibuno won’t be defending the same title. She’ll be hoping to win the AIG Women’s Open. The R&A has dropped the word “British.” Hmmm, I wonder if some international golf fans will remember to use the new title? After all, it works SO well for the Open Championship......

The sponsorship extension comes with a complete rebranding of what was already the blue chip tournament on the women's European golf calendar. It's obviously fantastic for women’s golf at a time when we need good news, not only in the women’s game, but all of golf. R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said:

“The AIG Women’s Open is a global championship and its new name reflects its growing stature and broadening international appeal.
“Together with AIG, we are determined to accelerate the progress we have made in women’s golf. The AIG Women’s Open is the perfect showcase for these highly skilled athletes to demonstrate how good they are and inspire more girls and women to take up golf."

We kicked off the season with great news, with the Ladies European Tour facing a bumper year after merging with the LPGA. Europe’s best women were looking forwards to record prize money and more tournaments. Then Covid-19 turned our world upside down.

Hopefully the momentum created at the start of the year, and this announcement, carries on in 2021, and Slumbers can realise the dream we all share of getting more girls and women into golf.

David lays down the Law

It’s been nine years since David Law was left off the 2011 Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team, and I’m still wondering why.

He probably is too.

Not that he probably spent too much time on that subject yesterday as he held the first-round lead in the Betfred British Masters at Close House.

Yes, GB&I beat a U.S. team that featured Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay, Peter Uihlein, Harris English, Russell Henley and Patrick Rodgers. That would seem to validate GB&I team selection. Wrong. Just because the home side won at Royal Aberdeen doesn’t mean the best team was assembled.

Law was the local boy, born and bred in Aberdeen. He grew up playing Royal Aberdeen, yet all that local knowledge counted for nothing in what remains one of the strangest omissions – in a plethora of strange omissions from international teams – in Walker Cup history. Only three members of that 10-man team – Andy Sullivan, Tom Lewis and Steven Brown – have gone on to win on the European Tour. Two – Alan Dunbar and Paul Cutler – have given up on trying to make it on European Tour.

Law is chasing his second tour win following last year’s ISPS Handa Vic Open.

As I say, Law won’t be losing any sleep over his Walker Cup snub. Success in the pro ranks is more than making up for it. However, it’s still a head scratcher all these years later.

R.I.P. Hally

I’m still reeling over the death of good friend Andrew Hall, who died of a massive heart attack a week ago today. He was just 62.

Andrew was a professional’s professional in every sense of the word. He was a highly respected teacher who bought Sand Martin’s Golf Club in Wokingham and turned it into a commercial success. So much so he sold it a few years ago and made a considerable profit. He should have been looking forward to a long, peaceful retirement right now.

He had a wicked sense of humour. He was once asked where he was staying during a tournament. He replied:

"I'm staying in the Marina."

The questioner was perplexed since the tournament was being held at an inland course. When he pressed Hally for details, this witty Yorkshireman replied:

"A Ford Marina – I'm sleeping in the back of my car."

I was fortunate to play many rounds with Andrew. For many years we played an annual Scotland v England Christmas match along with another two close friends, The Berkshire Golf Club professional Paul Anderson, another highly respected professional’s professional, and Simon Brown. (The photo below, left to right, shows Anderson, Brown, Moi and Andrew on the 14th tee of The Berkshire’s Red Course.)

I looked forward to those matches every year. Although the matches were fiercely contested, we teed it up for the craic. We shared a lot of laughs, a lot of drinks, good meals, much camaraderie and created bonds that can never be broken.

How I wish we were looking forward to another match this year, and many more in years to come. No doubt they’ll resume once we’re all in that great clubhouse in the sky.

R.I.P. Hally. Gone but never forgotten.

#JustSaying: “I asked for 15 invites last year and got one. It means jack shit being a major winner.” 2005 U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell on trying to get Champions Tour starts.

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