Things to know ahead of the Women's British Open golf major

Olympic champion Nelly Korda heads the star names teeing it up at Carnoustie for the final women's major of 2021.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

The final women's golf major of 2021, the Women's British Open - officially the AIG Women's Open for sponsorship reasons - starts on Thursday (19 August) at Carnoustie.

The Scottish links course will provide a stern test for the best golfers in the women's game including recent Olympic champion Nelly Korda.

The American moved to the top of the world rankings with her first major triumph at June's Women's PGA Championship, and is seeking more success in a wonderful year.

Sophia Popov was a shock winner at Royal Troon last year, and the German returns to defend her title.

Read on for all the key facts you need to know about the tournament.

Stars to watch at the Women's British Open 2021

There will be a lot of attention for Nelly Korda after her Olympic success in Tokyo, weeks after her first major triumph.

But the American has to buck something of a historical trend, with the last nine majors, starting with SHIBUNO Hinako at the 2019 Women's British Open, all going to first-time winners.

There is no doubt the 23-year-old is the one to beat, but she will have to be at her best to cope with a very different test from the Kasumigaseki Country Club on which she won Olympic gold.

READ: Nelly Korda's summer to remember peaks with an Olympic gold medal

You have to go all the way back to 2010 for the last year a player from the Republic of Korea failed to win a women's major.

This is the last chance the Korean stars have of breaking their 2021 barren run, with KIM Sei Young and KO Jin Young tied for ninth in Tokyo, seven shots behind Korda.

Inbee Park was tied for 23rd in the defence of her Rio 2016 title and, while she can never be written off, it is now six years since she won her last major at the 2015 Women's British Open.

Park told aigwomensopen.com, "I have fond memories of the AIG Women’s Open and I remember feeling very happy with my second-round 64 at Carnoustie in 2011."

"You never really know what sort of conditions you will be playing in at links golf, but you just have to play your own game and accept whatever bounces you get out there." - INBEE PARK

Inbee Park Tokyo
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Lydia Ko had to settle for Tokyo bronze after losing a playoff for silver with home player INAMI Mone, but still made history as the only player - man or woman - to win golf medals at two Olympic Games.

The 24-year-old New Zealander has rediscovered her form after making some big changes last year, including linking up with renowned swing coach Sean Foley.

Former world number one Ko managed to get some links practice in at last weekend's Ladies Scottish Open, and looks sure to be competitive once more.

Lydia Ko Tokyo
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Minjee Lee is looking to claim back-to-back majors after her victory at last month's Evian Championship in France.

Lee was seven strokes behind LEE Jeong-eun going into the final round but a 64 saw her draw level with the Korean before making birdie on the first playoff hole for the win.

That made her Australia's first women's major winner since Karrie Webb won her seventh in 2006, but Lee missed the cut at the Scottish Open suggesting Carnoustie may not be to her liking.

Minjee Lee 2021 Evian
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

One woman to watch is Denmark's Emily Kristine Pedersen who finished tied for fifth in Tokyo.

The 25-year-old had gone nearly five years without a win on the Ladies European Tour, but then claimed four titles in the space of four months to rocket up the world rankings.

Pedersen clearly has an affinity for links golf, finishing tied for second at last year's Ladies Scottish Open in her first tournament for three months following the start of the pandemic.

A week later, she finished just outside the top 10 at Royal Troon behind Popov.

Speaking to aigwomensopen.com, she said, "I like it when it gets quite tough. I love when you’re having to think out of the box a little bit. In links you have to play the slopes, you have to play the wind."

"You have to find different ways to hit the shots and I really like the fun of that. And then I go out with the mentality knowing that it’s going to be tough and let’s grind through it." - EMILY KRISTINE PEDERSEN

Emily Kristine Pedersen Tokyo
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

The course: Carnoustie - one of golf's toughest tests

Carnoustie is adjacent to the North Sea and 15km east of Dundee in Scotland.

It is one of the most challenging links courses in the world, particularly if the wind gets up, with its fearsome reputation attracting the nickname 'Car-nasty'.

The final three holes, with the Barry Burn stream featuring heavily, are notoriously perilous, with French male golfer Jean van de Velde famously wading in to try to rescue his sinking title hopes on the 18th at the 1999 Open Championship.

Tiger Woods called Carnoustie "probably the most difficult one we play in the whole (Open) rotation", with Jack Nicklaus ranking it "the toughest of all the championship venues".

While Carnoustie has hosted the men's major on eight occasions since 1931, it was only added to the Women's British Open rotation in 2011.

Ten years ago, Chinese Taipei's Yani Tseng finished four strokes clear to become the first woman to retain the title, having triumphed at Royal Birkdale 12 months earlier.

That saw Tseng, then 22, become the youngest player - male or female - to win five majors. She has not claimed one since.

Jean van de Velde Carnoustie 1999

The club certainly removed some of Carnoustie's teeth on its debut, but course superintendent Craig Boath says that will not be repeated.

He told Today's Golfer, "There was a bit of nervousness about making it too tough, primarily because it was the first time the women had played the course.

"This year we’ve added more length and reduced the par from 72 to 71. We’re using a lot more back tees as well so it will certainly present a lot more of a challenge."

Luck will plays its part, particularly with tee-times on the first two days, as the weather can have a big impact on scoring.

Accuracy off the tee and avoiding the numerous fairway bunkers is a must, as is steering clear of some cavernous greenside pot bunkers.

The Barry Burn gives its name to the 16th hole - described by Tom Watson as "the hardest par-3 in golf" - but also guards the greens on the 10th and the final two holes.

One thing is almost certain - no one will get near Tseng's winning score of 16-under from 2011.

Yani Tseng 2011 Open Carnoustie
Picture by 2011 Getty Images

2021 Women's British Open schedule and how to watch

The 2021 Women's British Open at Carnoustie gets underway on the morning of Thursday 19 August.

Up to 8,000 spectators will be allowed into the venue each day with the final round on Sunday 22 August.

The event will be available to watch via broadcast television and digital streaming for viewers in most regions. Find out more here.