Inicio Women's British Open AIG Women's British Open 2023 Julia López lands at the British eager to set up a ‘Christo’
The Malagueña will seek to emulate Lamprecht in her first Major at The Open

Julia López lands at the British eager to set up a ‘Christo’

Julia López Ramírez
Julia López Ramírez junto a Lucía López Ortega en el Europeo por equipos. © EGA

A couple of months relaxed, resting and enjoying the holidays. Ha. Quite the opposite. That’s what it’s like to be one of the best amateurs on the planet and to prove it, of course. “I had planned a very quiet summer, with just four tournaments and time to rest and, suddenly, the La Sella tournament came along and then the British and I can’t say no, hahaha. That’s why I’ve missed out on the summer, but it’s great”. The speaker is Julia López Ramírez, who has had an immaculate, heavenly season, which will culminate this week at Walton Heath participating in her first Major, the AIG Women’s Open.

She will be looking for the icing on the cake from this Thursday in England, emulating Lamprecht, the South African amateur who left everyone gobsmacked on the first day of the Open by climbing to the top of the leaderboard at Royal Liverpool; afterwards the giant, winner of the British for amateurs, wobbled on the second day, but made the cut. The player from Benahavís, why not, wants to pull off a ‘Christo’, pardon the pun with the first name of the boy born in the town of George.

“I know Lamprecht, yes, and obviously I’m going to give everything I have, although the nerves are always going to be there and more knowing that I’m going to play with the best in the world, but I’m going to take everything calmly, enjoy the experience and learn a lot”, says the European team and individual champion (the latter trophy gave her the ticket for the AIG), who left this Monday from Málaga with a suitcase full of hopes and without her family, who cannot accompany her: “They have to work, it’s a shame but what can you do. I have Lucía López Ortega (golfer from San José State) as a caddie, a teammate on the national team and a close friend since we met at the Blume“, says Julia. She has never competed on this course, but she has checked it out on the internet and it “looks very good, it’s like a links and it will be very similar to what we played in the individual European”.

“I’m on cloud nine, flipping out, very happy with everything, it’s very difficult to do better than this year”

The Andalusian was the last of five Spanish women to confirm her presence at Walton Heath. The others are Carlota Ciganda, Ana Peláez, Nuria Iturrioz and Carmen Alonso. Julia describes this campaign as “impressive”, sealed for now with that huge comeback in Sweden on the penultimate day and that exciting final round head to head with the Castellon-born Carla Bernat to take the continental title a week and a half ago. “This season I haven’t made any mistakes, it’s very difficult to do better than this year, honestly. I’m on cloud nine, flipping out, very happy with everything and the individual European was a big shock because I didn’t have any chance after the first two days, but I shot -8 on the third day and got into the fight”, she highlights. Well, and the final three birdies… “Indeed. Plus, I was a bit pissed off because I had made a bogey at 15 and I asked my teammates how it was going, they told me Carla was winning by one, with Lindblad (who will also be at the British after getting through the qualifying) behind, so I got my act together and told Marina (Escobar), who was caddying, that I had to push or there was nothing to do. And I hit a good shot at 16 and as soon as I holed that putt my adrenaline went through the roof and I finished with birdie and birdie. Fantastic”, recalls the Costa del Sol native, who was thrilled to receive congratulations on the title from two of her role models: Carlota Ciganda and Azahara Muñoz.

The feeling was similar to when she won her conference title (SEC) with Mississippi State a few months ago. “I hit a great shot with a wedge on the last flag. With three holes to go I knew I had to make a birdie and on the 18th I left it a whisker away. What a rush”, she enjoys while discussing it.

“I was a bit peeved not to make the cut at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, but in 2024 we’ll try again”

The sporting year of the young bulldog, who will make a lightning trip to Malaga after the British and a day later will head to United States to start her third season at Mississippi State, is breathtaking: in the NCAA, she won the Blessings, second in the UCF, third in the PING ASU Invitational, two more fifth places, victory in her conference, triumph in her Regional and thirteenth in the university final; she represented the international team at the Palmer Cup for the second consecutive year and won the Vagliano Trophy against Great Britain and Ireland with the continental Europe team; she made her debut in a Ladies European Tour tournament (La Sella Open), and with the national team she won the European team and individual championships. Hats off. Any thorns? “I was a bit peeved not to make the cut at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, but in 2024 we’ll try again. Both Augusta and the Champions, the other course, seemed crazy to me”, she says.

Sixth in the world amateur ranking, her best position ever, Julia will coincide at the British with Ally Ewing, the wife of her coach, Charlie Ewing, who has already stolen several records at Mississippi State: “We get along very well and she will always want the best for me; if I surpass her in records, she will be happy”, assures the Andalusian, who will also see at Walton Heath her new bulldog teammate, the German Chiara Horder, winner of the British Amateur, which the Spaniard did not attend. “It was just after the Palmer Cup and I didn’t have the energy to play that much, although it’s a tournament I love”, excuses López Ramírez.

By the way, Charlie Ewing stressed in an interview on Ten Golf that Julia took a while to realise that she is one of the best in the world. Didn’t you see it that way out of modesty or why? “I’m a person who will never give myself credit, I prefer to go step by step, getting everything out of me, and when I give 100 per cent, then I can say that I’m one of the best in the world. Little by little I’m believing it and I get results like in this European, that helps me to believe that yes, I’m there”, maintains the Malaga-born; “I’m motivated by that kind of thing, of course, and I see myself capable of winning many tournaments, that’s for sure. But it takes a lot of work, a lot of mentality and that’s not so easy because even though you’re up there, there are other rivals competing”.

“There’s a lot of young talent in Spain and when they make the jump to the USA there’ll be no catching them”

Ten Spanish women in the top 100 world amateur. What a crop, Julia… “It’s amazing. Spain is climbing the stairs very quickly, going straight into sixth gear and all the girls below, with 16, 17 and 18 years old, are rising very quickly and sneaking up there. These girls are very good, there’s a lot of talent in Spain, and when they make the jump and go to university there’ll be no catching them. Hopefully some of us will give Spain its first Major”. Now it’s Cayetana Fernández‘s turn, who is making the jump to Texas A&M, where her sister Blanca plays: “Cata is third in the world and she was second, how cool. She’s very good and, above all, very competitive. Going to the United States will help her a lot because we’re all very competitive there, we like to win, it’s more of a team game and that’s going to be good for her because she’s going to have a lot of fun”, she points out.

An excellent hitter (245-250 metres of flight), Julia wants to continue this season improving her short game, especially on the greens. She regrets not being in Spain in a month and a half… “The Solheim is played five minutes from my house, and I’ll have to watch it from the United States. It’s a shame”, she says. The next edition is in 2024 and she will still be studying. Maybe in 2026 she can opt to play in the Netherlands: “Oysters, how cold. I hope I can compete then, it would be a dream”.

Finally, what can you tell us about Rose Zhang? Will her arrival as a professional mark a before and after in women’s world golf? “I haven’t had a chance to play with her, but I know this girl is very consistent, she doesn’t fail, she has a perfect swing and with a very strong mind, that’s what stands out most about her game; she always goes to any tournament to win, whether amateur or professional, to give her best. She’s going to make a difference as she showed as soon as she turned professional by taking her first win, that seems outrageous to me”, concludes Julia, who has been in contact with Nuria Iturrioz these days to act as a guide for her and Lucía López Ortega. It should not be overlooked that the British will be the third tournament with professionals for Julia after a Santander event and the recent one at La Sella. “But this is a Major, puffff”. Go for it all.

Live results of the AIG Women’s Open 2023