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AIG Women's British Open: Greatest Debuts

To celebrate Hinako Shibuno's achievement of winning the AIG Women's British Open in 2019 in her debut appearance, we take a look at five of the best debuts in the history of the event.

Hinako Shibuno – 2019

Course: Woburn Marquess

Finish: Champion

Hinako Shibuno captured hearts and minds in 2019 to become the first player since the Women’s British Open earned major status in 2001 to win in her debut appearance. Pak Se Ri won the inaugural major edition of this event, but it was in her third appearance in the tournament.

The ‘Smiling Cinderella’ had never played a tournament outside of Japan, let alone a major, when she arrived at Woburn. Coming to the 72nd hole, she faced a 20-foot putt to win the title, and with a smile on her face she holed it to become the first Japanese winner of the Women’s British Open since Ayako Okamoto in 1984.

Karrie Webb – 1995

Course: Woburn Duke’s

Finish: Champion

As a relatively unheralded 20-year-old from Australia, Karrie Webb’s first ever professional victory came at the 1995 Women’s British Open when she romped to victory on the Duke’s Course at Woburn.

The latest player to win on their debut until Shibuno last year, Webb shot rounds of 69, 70, 69 and 70 to outplay the strongest ever Women’s British Open field at the time and win by six shots over Jill McGill and Annika Sorenstam.

The World Golf Hall of Fame member would go on to win the Women’s British Open two further times, including once as a major, and is the most successful golfer in the history of the event alongside Sherri Steinhauer.

Yani Tseng – 2008

Course: Sunningdale Old

Finish: T2

Fresh off winning her first major championship at the Women’s PGA Championship, Yani Tseng arrived at Sunningdale to make her hotly anticipated debut in the Women’s British Open.

Her performance did not disappoint, as the Taiwanese superstar improved each and every day to finish second, with a brilliant final round of 66 following rounds of 70, 69 and 68 respectively.

At just 19-years-old, Tseng showed fans a preview of what was to come, as the future world number one would win back-to-back Women’s British Opens in 2010 and 2011, becoming only the third player in the history of the event to do so.

Sophie Gustafson – 1998

Course: Royal Lytham & St Annes

Finish: T2

In 1998, Sophie Gustafson showed what a fine links player she was when she made her Women’s British Open debut at Royal Lytham & St Annes. After an opening round of 78, the Swedish star fought back admirably and had a great chance to win with just two holes to play.

However, an incredible birdie on the 72nd hole from Sherri Steinhauer pipped Gustafson at the post and won the first of back-to-back Women's British Open titles for the American.

The young Swede, like Steinhauer, was driven on by the 1998 Women's British Open. With a top-ten in her back pocket at Woburn the following year, Gustafson returned to the links at Royal Birkdale in 2000 and triumphed to claim the coveted title.

An incredibly consistent force at the Women’s British Open, Gustafson registered seven top-ten finishes at the tournament in her career, including her victory in 2000 and her wonderful debut in 1998.

Michelle Wie – 2005

Course: Royal Birkdale

Finish: T3 (Low Amateur)

Although Michelle Wie won’t be at the 2020 Women’s British Open due to the birth of her first child in June, 15 years ago the American made one of the most anticipated debuts in the history of the event.

The incredibly talented American had already come close to winning a major just one month prior at the Women’s PGA Championship, and despite her youth and relative inexperience, she was installed as one of the favourites prior to the event.

Starting out with a tough round of 75, the precocious 15-year-old showed incredible composure to come back and finish in a tie for third, collecting the Smyth Salver for her Low Amateur finish. Astonishingly, despite her age, this was already Wie’s fourth top-ten and sixth low amateur title in a major.