Amid virus disruption, Hall fears for Women’s British Open

AP – Georgia Hall is using Britain’s lockdown during the coronavirus outbreak to do things she might not otherwise have got round to in a typical golfing year.

Like painting her new house.

Like going for half-hour runs.

Like watching a re-run of last year’s Solheim Cup, in which she played the starring role.

“It was the first time I’ve watched it back properly,” Hall said of Europe’s 14½-13½ win over the United States (US) at Gleneagles that might go down as the most dramatic Solheim Cup ever.

“Seeing how we all ran onto the 18th green at the end. I was still smiling as I was watching it.”

When it comes to golf, that’s pretty much all Hall and the world’s other players have at the moment: Memories.

File photo shows Georgia Hall of Great Britain. PHOTO: AP

The pandemic that has virtually closed global sports means there’s no prospect of any competitive golf for the foreseeable future, perhaps until after the summer.

“I’m hoping maybe August or September we’ll be able to play again,” Hall said in a phone interview from her home near Bournemouth in southern England.

Yet even that timescale might be optimistic, with Hall not expecting the Women’s British Open – scheduled for August 20-23 at Royal Troon on the west coast of Scotland – to go ahead.

“I’m going to guess it won’t be on,” she predicted, and for Hall that would be especially hard to take.

It was at her home major in 2018 where she captured the biggest title of her career, winning by two shots at Royal Lytham to become the first English-born champion since 2004.

Her pedigree was enhanced by winning all four of her matches at the Solheim Cup last year, including against Lexi Thompson in the singles, to be tied as the top individual point-scorer that week.

It makes the 23-year-old Hall a big deal in women’s golf — even if she hasn’t won on either side of the Atlantic since that week in Lytham. She fancied her chances on the Troon links, too, having finished tied for 35th in her title defence at Woburn.

“I absolutely loved the whole things that came with being reigning champion and defending the title – I would love to have that every year,” Hall said.

“It wasn’t my favourite place to play, it didn’t suit me, but I am actually quite happy with where I finished on that golf course. But Troon, I think, suits me a lot more so I would look forward to playing there.”

For now, she’s having to settle for using recently purchased chipping nets in her garden and a couple of putting mats inside the house she moved into only last month. Practising her long game isn’t really possible in a lockdown.

Hall reckons it will take her only a few days to get back up to speed whenever competitive golf does return, and that it’s just about “keeping positive” in the meantime and preparing for what could be a glut of back-to-back tournaments at the end of 2020.

For Europe-based players, the pandemic has punctured some of the optimism generated by the announcement last year of a joint business venture between the Ladies European Tour and the US-based LPGA Tour.

It put women’s golf in Europe on arguably its best ever footing, increasing the number of events on the schedule to 24 — there were 15 in 2018 — and the total prize money to nearly USD20 million, a third more than last year. It was supposed to mark the dawn of a vibrant and lucrative era.