Ricoh British Open: Stacy Lewis is relishing Michelle Wie rivalry
Last Updated: 09/07/14 3:15pm
British Open rivals Michelle Wie and Stacy Lewis
World No 1 Stacy Lewis is relishing her growing rivalry with Michelle Wie as she prepares to defend her Ricoh British Open title at Royal Birkdale.
The battle between Lewis and world No 6 Wie, who won her first major at the US Open last month, could be one of the main talking points at the Merseyside links course this week.
Wie, 24, burst onto the scene amid a blaze of publicity a decade ago but is only now finding the consistency to produce the performances that were expected of her in her teens.
Lewis, who finished with back-to-back birdies to claim the British Open crown at St Andrews last year, believes her fellow American's emergence as a genuine force can only be good for the game.
"I think it's great that people are starting to see Michelle and I as rivals. I think rivalries are great for any sport and Michelle definitely moves the needle."
The 29-year-old said: "I think it's great that people are starting to see Michelle and I as rivals.
"I think rivalries are great for any sport and Michelle definitely moves the needle.
"I think her playing good golf is good for golf. It's good for the Tour and it's good for the other players.
"I said the US Open couldn't have been scripted any better. She's our biggest star and her winning there was huge for us."
Wie sees the rivarly as a friendly one, but is determined to come out on top in the coming days.
She said: "I feel very honoured that people are putting me up against Stacy.
"I don't think you'll find a rivalry where we hate each other or anything like that because I want her to do well and I think she wants me to do well.
"But I think it's fun because we definitely want to beat each other."
The American pair will be among a tight group of favourites at Birkdale, which stages the women's showpiece for the third time.
Lexi Thompson, the 19-year-old winner of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, will hope to challenge for another major title while Suzann Pettersen, Lydia Ko and Inbee Park add further depth to the field.
There is much excitement around a youthful British challenge headed by the likes of Charley Hull, Holly Clyburn, Stephanie Meadow and Florentyna Parker, who are all among Thursday's early starters.
Scottish veteran Catriona Matthew, the world No 15 and 2009 British Open champion, also hopes to mount a strong challenge and is looking forward to getting out on the course.
Matthew said: "I'm pleased with how I'm playing, (I've) played well all year.
"The course is in fantastic shape. The greens, fairways, are really good. But you're going to have to play really well around here, keep it out of the rough."