- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 12, 2012

HOYLAKE, England — Paula Creamer took one look at the wind and rain battering the Royal Liverpool links and liked what she saw.

Creamer will play alongside defending champion Yani Tseng of Taiwan and Japan’s Ai Miyazato for the first two rounds of the Women’s British Open, the season’s fourth and final major starting Thursday at Hoylake.

With heavy wind and rain affecting Wednesday’s practice and more bad weather forecast for the next few days, the 36th staging of the tournament could become a war of attrition for the world’s best women golfers.

“This course sets up incredibly well for me,” Creamer said. “I hope it stays this windy and this hard. I like that. I truly like the challenge.”

The conditions were much different when the American played Hoylake for the first time on a private visit earlier this summer.

“When I played I was in shorts and short-sleeved shirt,” she said. “I actually played it twice. The first time there was no wind and the second day it was like today, when it died down a little bit.

“Wind like this, conditions like this, a lot of it you can’t control. But I think it was smart coming to have a look when we did. I know where to avoid and where not to go.”

Creamer is a global ambassador for tournament sponsor Ricoh, which announced an extension of its commitment to the event for another three years until 2016

Tseng, winner at Carnoustie last year and Royal Birkdale in 2010, was full of praise for Royal Liverpool, which is staging the women’s championship for the first time. It has hosted 11 men’s British Opens and many top amateur and professional events in its history.

“I just love the course, the British Open with its history and tradition,” said Tseng, who will be bidding for her sixth major championship since bursting onto the scene as a 19-year-old with victory in the LPGA Championship in 2008. “I think you have to have so much imagination out there. You really need to work the ball.

“I’ve struggled a little in the last couple of months, but it’s a good time to be back here and I think it’s my turn to start playing well again. I love playing with Ai and Paula. It’s a good draw and I’m very excited. It should be fun.”

Miyazato, with eight top 10 finishes on the LPGA Tour this year, is also looking forward to the challenge.

“It’s really nice to be here. I just love the atmosphere of this tournament. My short game is pretty solid this year and that’s why I think I’ve been playing really well so far.”

The trio will start at 7:20 a.m. British time Thursday from the 10th tee. Three other former major winners — Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and South Koreans Inbee Park and Jiyai Shin — start at the same time from the first tee.

The winners of this year’s first three majors — China’s Shanshan Feng and South Koreans Sun Young Yoo and Na Yeon Choi — are also in the field.

Michelle Wie, Christie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome, Lexi Thompson, Morgan Pressel, Natalie Gulbis and Brittany Lang are among the 34-strong American contingent in the field of 144.

Fifteen-year-old New Zealand amateur sensation Lydia Ko, winner of the Canadian Open last month, tees off first at 7 a.m. from the 10th paired with Lexi Thompson and Japan’s Kaori Ohe. The South Korean-born Ko became the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history and only the fifth amateur champion.

The European challengers include 20-year-old Scot Carly Booth, leading the tour order of merit with two wins this season; Germany’s Caroline Masson, who led going into the final round at Carnoustie last year; and Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall, winner in Austria 10 days ago.

Catriona Matthew, the last British winner at Royal Lytham in 2009, is one of the home favorites along with European Tour veteran Laura Davies, who won the title in 1986.

American Numa Gulyanamitta withdrew Wednesday and was replaced by first alternate Louise Larsson from Sweden.