Georgia Hall looks for major breakthrough at Women's British Open

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Georgia Hall looks for major breakthrough at Women's British Open

LPGA Tour

Georgia Hall looks for major breakthrough at Women's British Open

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – Georgia Hall has a chance over the next 54 holes to do what only one Englishwoman has done since 2004: Make the Ricoh Women’s British Open her first major victory.

Hall returned a bogey-free 5-under 67 Thursday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. She’s in contention to become only the second English winner, following Karen Stupples, since the Women’s British attained major championship status in 2001.

The 22-year-old Hall played in the company of World No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn and outscored the two-time major champion by four shots. A birdie at the par-3 opening holed helped her cause. So did three consecutive birdies from the 13th hole.

“I was actually pretty calm,” Hall said. “I was playing with the world number one. I think she was more nervous than I was. I had a really good crowd on the first who clapped me and that got me going from the first hole. I was happy to get a birdie. It kind of settled me.”

The European Solheim Cup player is bidding to go two places better than last year when she finished third at Kingsbarns. Cue head scratching at British oddsmaker Ladbrokes for making her a 66-1 longshot to win this week. Unsurprisingly, her odds are now 16-1.

While Charley Hull looked under pressure from the weight of expectation with three straight bogeys from the third, Hall soaked up the pressure and was nearly flawless all day.

“It’s the British Open and I expect some (pressure) it being home for me. It’s fun,” Hall said. “No one’s ever going to win a tournament by getting ahead of themselves and getting too excited so I was just trying to stay calm today. I’ve got tomorrow to look forward to and remain in the same groove.”

The native of Bournemouth on England’s south coast has dad Wayne on her bag this week. She’s given regular caddie/boyfriend Harry Tyrrell another week off following last week’s Scottish Open when her dad was also on the bag. It’s part of an annual stint to rekindle the days when dad caddied for her in amateur golf.

“I’m quite dependent on the golf course anyway, so I just kind of make my own decisions all the time, so I was just going out there doing the same as normal,” Hall said.

Hall jumped into the limelight last year when she contended at Kingsbarns and then played in the Solheim Cup. Normal has gone from learning her craft to contending for majors.

Hull is used to that sort of normal, but she had to rally from her disastrous start to return a 1-under 71. She did so by playing the back nine in 4-under 33.

“It is tough to get it back, especially in a major when you have to hang tough, but I just kind of kept my head down and knew there were birdies out there,” Hull said. “I just kind of thought to myself, just keep patient.”

She did and clawed her way back into the tournament.

Florentyna Parker sits at 3 under after a 69 that included a hole-in-one at the 144-yard par-3 ninth hole with an 8-iron. Bronte Law is another shot back at 2 under, in a tie with Chloe Frankish, to round out the English challenge.

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