Jodi's back in the country and means business at Birkdale

First published in Sport
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The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Football/Golf Writer

IT is that time of the year when Jodi Ewart-Shadoff can come back home. Opportunities are rare these days because of the hectic nature of her schedule, but operating in the upper echelons of the LPGA Tour means an appearance at the Ricoh Women’s British Open - again.

The North Yorkshire golfer has warmed up for her return to England by missing just one cut from her 13 events this year, including a respectable tied 19th finish at the US Women’s Open at Pinehurst last month.

But she has arrived at Royal Birkdale knowing how much she would love to reach the weekend’s play of the British showpiece for the first time in her career – and that could lead to more.

“It's been perfect conditions over here for practice this week,” said Ewart-Shadoff, ahead of teeing off early this morning with Japan’s Mamiko Higa and China’s Yani Tseng.

“Obviously everyone aims to win it, it would be nice to win a home major and with my sponsorship with Ricoh it would make it that much more special. I think I have what it takes to win now and I'm excited for this week and for the rest of the season.”

Ewart-Shadoff failed to make the cut at St Andrew’s last year or Royal Liverpool 12 months earlier. In the run-up to the main event this week, however, the 26-year-old from rural Middleham village is confident after testing out the Southport links.

“It’s nice to be back and the course is in great shape,” said Ewart-Shadoff, who is back at Royal Birkdale for the first time since she was 14.

“The greens are so pure and running really true. I've played it before but not for over ten years so I couldn't really remember any holes when I played my practice rounds. I am looking forward to getting my tournament going now.”

After her heroics in 2013, Ewart-Shadoff’s reputation reached new heights. As well as earning almost $500,000 and claiming four top ten finishes, she played a pivotal part of Europe’s first success on American soil.

Since turning pro in New Mexico in 2010, Ewart-Shadoff is keen for that progress to continue and feels in good shape ahead of turning out at Royal Birkdale for the first time in more than a decade.

“It was a bit like showing up to a brand new course this week,” she said. “I’m definitely happy with where my game is at the moment and hopefully I can do well.

“It will be interesting to see what the weather does and how they set up the course in regards to the weather. You just never know with links which way the wind will blow.”

For the second year in a row Darlington’s Ellie Givens narrowly missed out on a place at the Open. After playing solidly in final qualifying, Givens lost out on a seven-woman play-off and was on the reserves list.

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