The best rivalry in golf is broiling anew at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
If you’re talking consistent showdowns, back-and-forth battles, then the best rivalry in golf is the United States vs. South Korea.
Inbee Park’s 4-under-par 68 Saturday moves her into the lead going into Sunday’s final round at Royal Birkdale. South Koreans were 1-2 atop the leaderboard before Sun-Ju Ahn was penalized two shots for building a stance in a greenside bunker at the 18th hole. The penalty was assessed after she left the course and officials reviewed tape of the ESPN telecast.
Amelia Lewis, No. 185 in the Rolex world rankings, is the highest American on the leaderboard, sitting two shots back despite a double bogey at the last hole. She is tied for fifth after a 70, but defending champion and Rolex world No. 1 Stacy Lewis isn’t far back. Stacy Lewis (70) trails by just three.
With Park taking the world No. 1 from Lewis early last year and winning the year’s first three major championships, South Koreans continued to build on their international success. Meanwhile, the Americans were going through their longest winless spell in major championship history. When Park won the U.S. Women’s Open at Sebonack, the American drought in majors went to 10 straight, the most consecutive majors that have ever passed without an American woman winning.
The Americans are answering boldly.
Americans have won the first two majors of the year for the first time since 1999, with Lexi Thompson winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April and Michelle Wie the U.S. Women’s Open last month. Lewis took the No. 1 ranking back from Park six weeks ago.
Earlier this year, in the final week of team qualifying for the new International Crown, the Americans unexpectedly stole the No. 1 seed from South Korea. A showdown between the United States and South Korea for the title in that new Olympic style team event is expected in two weeks at Caves Valley outside Baltimore, Md.
While Americans have won 10 LPGA events this year, Park has South Korea’s lone title.