GOLFERS from across the globe will battle it out to be crowned the Ladies Scottish Open champion at a deserted Renaissance Club.

The tournament is being held at the course, by Dirleton, for the second consecutive year but the coronavirus pandemic means no spectators will line the fairways.

That has not stopped an impressive field being confirmed for the tournament, which was won last year by Mi Jung Hur.

Players are travelling to East Lothian from throughout the world, with entrants from as far afield as Australia, Canada, China, Nigeria and Paraguay taking on the par-71 course.

North Berwick’s Catriona Matthew is one of seven Scots in the field, with the competition getting under way today (Thursday).

East Lothian Courier:

Speaking at a virtual press conference, the winning Solheim Cup captain said: “The tournament definitely is one of the biggest ones on my schedule, obviously as a former winner and being local, living five minutes along the road in North Berwick.

“It has been a very special event for the 11 years it’s been on.

“I must say, I’m just really looking forward to playing in it.

“Obviously it’s going to be different for the local community this year that none of them can physically come and watch it, but as someone said earlier, hopefully people will be watching on television.”

And she added: “I didn’t realise how much live sport I watched on TV until there wasn’t any!

“I was struggling to find things to watch.

“I’ve been watching some of the men’s golf on television and I think people are just excited and it gives them something to watch on the TV, and to have women’s golf, women’s sport, up there will be good and I’m really looking forward to these next two weeks.”

Matthew won the event in 2011 and 2013 at the nearby Archerfield Links, with fellow Scot Carly Booth lifting the trophy in the year in between.

However, Asian players have dominated the competition in the last three years, with South Korea’s Lee Mi-hyang winning in 2019 and Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn crowned champion in 2018 at Gullane Golf Club.

Moriya Jutanugarn, older sister of the 2018 champion, finished tied for second 12 months ago.

This year’s field is headed up by world number two Danielle Kang, who won the first LPGA tournament back after almost six months without tournaments, the LPGA Drive On Championship.

It is a star-studded field, with 15 Major winners with a haul of 24 Majors between them taking part.

The most prolific winner is another former Ladies Scottish Open winner, Dame Laura Davies.

There are 27 Solheim Cup players in the field having notched up over 100 appearances between them and six past champions: Davies, Booth, Trish Johnson, Lee and former world number one Ariya Jutanugarn, along with Matthew – who will lead Team Europe at next year's Solheim Cup.

This year’s tournament is going ahead as a made-for-TV event following close consultation and collaboration with the Scottish Government, Aberdeen Standard Investments, VisitScotland, the LPGA and the LET, fully adhering to internationally recognised Covid-19 protocol.

The decision to move forward with the 2020 Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open was taken only once organisers and stakeholders could ensure delivery of an event with all relevant safeguarding and protocols in place.

The tournament has a robust operational plan, which has been established with medical and health and safety specialists to make sure that all appropriate measures are in place that meet the standards required by the Scottish Government, as well as adhering to all WHO guidelines.

The competition will be played over four rounds, with the winner crowned on Sunday evening.