Michelle Wie carded a course record eight under par 64 to storm into the lead after the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns Golf Links.
The 27-year old American posted nine birdies and a solitary bogey to shave one shot off the previous course record set by China’s Xiyu Lin at Final Qualifying for this Championship back in 2013 but it was only enough to earn give her a narrow advantage over a packed leaderboard featuring many of the top-ranked players in the women’s game.
Wie went out in the gentlest conditions first thing in the morning but could scarcely have guessed what was to follow when she skulled a lob wedge through the green at the second to record her only bogey of the day. However, she followed that with birdies on the fourth, sixth and eighth to go out in 34 and then stormed home in six under par 30 with further birdies at the 11th, 12th 14th, 16th, 17th and 18th.
“That start got me a bit annoyed for a while but it was fun out there,” she said. “Any time you shoot a 64 on a course like Kingsbarns you’ve got to be happy.
“I think we’ve been very lucky with the British Open. We’ve played some great venues like Lytham and St Andrews and this is definitely one of the great ones as well. It was so gorgeous out there sometimes you get lost in the views. It’s just so spectacular. It’s a really fun golf course. I’m really proud of myself for taking advantage of the conditions this morning.”
Wie’s 64 was enough to see her claim a one shot lead over Korea’s I K Kim with America’s Lindy Duncan third on 66 and Korea’s Chella Choi, Americans Lexi Thompson and Marissa Steen, Holland’s Anne Van Dam and English duo Mel Reid and Jodi Ewart Shadoff all sharing fourth place on 67.
Kim completed her opening 65 just before the first of two postponements caused by the threat of thunder and lightning which were to result in play being delayed by a total of one hour and 17 minutes.
The Korean began her round with five birdies in her opening eight holes before coming home in two under par 34 to claim second place just behind Wie.
“The wind was picking up on the back nine but the scenery is so pretty it’s hard to focus on your game,” she said
Reid made her first advance of the day on the third and then carded four consecutive birdies from the seventh before carding further birdies at the 14thand 16th. Her only bogeys of the day came when she three-putted at the 14thand 17th.
“I felt like I struck it pretty well but I definitely left a few out there,” she said. “Hopefully I’m saving them for the next three days.
“It was important to take advantage of the calm conditions and post a good score,” she added. “I want to win this week. I’m trying my hardest to give myself a chance. I’ve started pretty well but I need the same over the next couple of days to put myself in contention on Sunday.
One player who defied the worst of the weather was veteran Englishwoman, Dame Laura Davies, who posted a fine four under par 68 to share ninth place with compatriots Charley Hull and Georgia Hall, Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and Americans Jaye Marie Green, Morgan Pressel and Ally McDonald.
“I’m very pleased,” said the Englishwoman who is playing in her 37th consecutive Championship after coming through a play-off at Final Qualifying earlier in the week. “I played pretty well but I putted great. It’s the best putting round I’ve had for donkey’s years.
“I love the course,” she added. “This is the first round I’ve ever had on it. I only walked it yesterday because I had to qualify Monday. I loved what I saw then and I loved playing it. It suits the long hitters, so I think it’s a bit of an advantage for us this week.”
– Pauline Courtois leads after first day
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