Ladies Head Over Heels for St Andrews

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Ricoh WomenST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- The Old Course at St. Andrews has never seen anything like it: Paula Creamer doing a cartwheel in front of the famous Swilcan Bridge at the 18th hole.
 
The fabled course is offering plenty of surprises to the players preparing for the Women's British Open, the first women's professional tournament to be held at the home of golf.
 
Cristie Kerr
Cristie Kerr is trying to add a British Open win to her U.S. Open triumph. (Getty Images)
'When you're watching it on TV, everything seems like it's straight in front of you,' said 17-year-old Michelle Wie, still trying to get her game back on course after a wrist injury. 'It's just so different when you play it. I never realized that almost every tee shot on the front nine is a blind tee shot.'
 
Wie, Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and the other stars will be allowed -- for one week only -- to go into the exclusively male Royal & Ancient Club clubhouse behind the first tee.
 
Sorenstam, also recovering from back and neck injuries, won here as an amateur in 1990 before going on to win 84 tournaments as a professional, including 10 majors.
 
'It's amazing to walk down the fairways and kind of remember some of the shots from TV that the men have made and just kind of absorb the history,' Sorenstam said. 'It does not get much better than this.'
 
Sorenstam won the British Open at Royal Lytham in 2003 to complete a career Grand Slam of majors.
 
'The British Open has always meant so much to me,' she said. 'And then to come here with so much history. I really think this is a milestone for women's golf.'
 
Like the other players here for the fourth major of the LPGA Tour, Wie says she gets a thrill making 50-yard putts across the enormous double greens at the Old Course.
 
She's puzzled that she needs to aim tee shots toward adjoining fairways to try to get the best angle into the greens. And she's trying to stay away from the deep pot bunkers, which led to the likes of David Duval and Ernie Els taking four shots just to get out.
 
'The greens are very strange and interesting,' said Wie, who tied for 69th at last week's Evian Masters. 'They're like Mount Everest on the greens basically, and you have to putt from 50 yards away. It's just so amazing. It is the greatest honor being able to play here. It's intimidating because there's so much history on it.'
 
Like most links, the Old Course has no trees and very few bushes. But many of its challenges are still hidden from view, such as the pot bunkers and the hard bumpy fairways that direct the bouncing ball one way when the golfers want it to go the other.
 
The famous Road Hole, the 453-yard 17th, has been made a par-5 from a par-4 for the men because of the difficulty in reaching the green in two.
 
Sherri Steinhauer, the defending champion and three-time winner, summoned the help of a local caddie to help her negotiate the bumpy fairways and pot bunkers on the 6,638-yard, par-73 course, which has greens up to 100-yards wide and covering two holes.
 
'Everybody who plays golf should come here at some point,' Steinhauer said. 'I have to say I've just been in awe of the golf course.'
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Ricoh Women's British Open