A mentally stronger Steph Kyriacou will call on the comforts of home to push for major championship glory at this week’s AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath Golf Club in England.
Laid out across largely flat heathland with bunkering and heather framing each hole in the golf-rich county of Surrey, Walton Heath presents a different challenge to 12 months ago when South African Ashleigh Buhai triumphed at Muirfield Golf Club.
Kyriacou was five strokes back in a tie for seventh at Muirfield, still her best result in a major to date.
The 22-year-old believes she is in a better place a year on to improve on that again and potentially contend for a maiden major title.
At the heart of that belief is her home club in Sydney, St Michael’s Golf Club, and the exposure that has given her to playing in conditions familiar to what she will experience at Walton Heath.
“I really like coming back to the UK and playing golf here,” said Kyriacou.
“I like playing in the wind and all of this heathland-style course as it reminds me of home and where I grew up.
“I guess it’s like a home away from home.”
In her second season on the LPGA Tour, Kyriacou has begun to display the type of form that has made her a two-time winner on the Ladies European Tour.
An aggressive mindset made her a standout performer for Team Australia at the International Crown at San Francisco, a mindset she has since carried through to five top-16 finishes in her past seven starts, her best a tie for fourth after playing her way into the final group at the Dana Open.
Now ranked No.93 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Ranking, Kyriacou is finding a groove that will free her up to play her best in the biggest tournaments.
“This year, I feel like I’m in a better place mentally with my golf,” Kyriacou revealed.
“I’m looking forward to this week to see what will happen.”
Kyriacou will be the first Aussie to tee off at 4.14pm Thursday afternoon, paired with Marina Alex and Akie Iwai.
Two-time major winner Minjee Lee will play with Nasa Hataoka and Daniell Kang from 4.58pm while qualifier Kelsey Bennett is in the final group of the day, teeing off in her major championship debut at 12.28am AEST.
This week also marks the start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs on the PGA TOUR where Jason Day and Cam Davis will fly the Australian flag.
Winner of the AT&T Byron Nelson, Day is well-placed at No.11 in the ranking to advance all the way to the top 30 to contest the Tour Championship while Davis, No.62, needs a good result at this week’s FedEx St Jude Championship to climb into the top 50 and advance to week two.
Round 1 tee times AEST
AIG Women’s Open
Walton Heath Golf Club, Surrey, England
4.14pm Akie Iwai, Marina Alex, Steph Kyriacou
4.58pm Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka, Danielle Kang
5.20pm Nelly Korda, Lydia Ko (NZ), Charley Hull
8.10pm Meghan Maclaren, Sarah Kemp, Kylie Henry
8.54pm Eun Hee Ji, Grace Kim, Stephanie Meadow
10pm Allisen Corpuz, Hyo Joo Kim, Hannah Green
12.28am Johanna Gustavsson, Chloe Williams, Kelsey Bennett
Defending champion: Ashleigh Buhai
Past Aussie winners: Corinne Dibnah (1988), Karen Lunn (1993), Karrie Webb (1995, 1997, 2002)
TV times: Live 8pm-3am Thursday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo; Live 8pm-3am Friday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo; Live 9pm-11pm Saturday on Fox Sports 505 and Kayo; Live 11pm-4am Saturday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo; Live 9pm-4am Sunday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.
LET Access Series
Big Green Egg Swedish Open
Varbergs Golf Klubb, Sweden
4pm* Zhen Bontan, Hanee Song (NZ), Amanda Gyllner
4.20pm Carolina Sandstrom, Stefanie Hall, Anna-Maria Diederichs
4.20pm* Verena Gimmy, Stephanie Bunque, Cloe Frankish
4.40pm Puk Lyng Thomsen, Wenyung Keh (NZ), Cecilie Leth-Nissen
4.40pm* Karina Kukkonen, Munchin Keh (NZ), Kajsa Lindqvist
Defending champion: Inaugural event
Past Aussie winners: Nil
Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images