LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – The wispy fescue, the prickly gorse and the damp, heavy air over the links at Royal Lytham & St. Annes didn’t stir Georgia Hall’s soul Friday morning as much as settle it.
Biscuits and tea at the turn couldn’t have made her feel more so.
With her father, Wayne, a plasterer by trade, back on her bag this week, and with her mother, Samantha, in the gallery, Hall couldn’t be more at ease playing a major championship in her native England.
It’s all bringing out the best in her again at the Ricoh Women’s British Open
A 4-under-par 68 following Thursday’s 67 leaves Hall one shot off the lead going into the weekend.
“There’s nothing like this,” Hall said. “There's nothing like a good day on a links golf course. It's so beautiful to play.”
A year ago, Hall was in this same position, tied for second going into the weekend at Kingsbarns. She ended up tying for third.
Back in her Women’s British Open debut at St. Andrews five years ago, she shared low amateur honors with Lydia Ko.
This style of golf suits her game.
“I love hitting the ball low,” she said. “You can play so many different shots out here. It’s great fun. I love playing links.”
Royal Lytham & St. Annes is laden with trap doors. The 167 bunkers and strategically arrayed gorse bushes make trouble so easy to find. The fact that Hall hasn’t made a bogey through 36 holes is testament to her comfort this week.
“I don't feel really any pressure at all,” she said.
Funny thing, Hall didn’t really grow up on links golf playing around Bournemouth in the south of England. She learned to love the seaside layouts as her horizons in competitive golf expanded.
The familiarity of everything this week is making Hall steadier than you’d expect with all the pressure that comes with being an English favorite. At 22, she gained some terrific experience making the European Solheim Cup team last year, but she’s just an LPGA rookie, seeking her first LPGA title.
“I'm still pretty calm and not really feeling much at the moment, which is good,” said Hall, who reminded reporters that she’s only halfway through the championship, when nerves shouldn’t be as large a factor. “I don't want to feel anything. So I'm just enjoying it.”
So is her father, who introduced her to the game when she was 7. He played to a 2-handicap, but he doesn’t play anymore.
“Playing the British Open was our dream, since Georgia started playing,” Wayne said. “Whatever result she gets, it’s fine. It’s about just being here, for me, walking around the course with her.”
Hall’s boyfriend, Harry Tyrell, is walking with her mother and friends. Harry picked up her bag as her regular caddie last year. Hall says she suspects they are telling secrets about her. She loves them being part of the big gallery following her.
“I don’t normally get it in America, and I don't get as much support as I got this week, or last week [at the Ladies Scottish],” Hall said. “So, it’s nice to be playing in England, and so nice to have my family and boyfriend here. So, I'm very lucky, really.”
And hoping to feel more so, hoisting a trophy on Sunday.