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Morgan Pressel and Camilla Lennarth made hay while the sun shone yesterday–literally as well as figuratively–at the Old Course at St. Andrews, firing a pair of 66s to take the 1st-round lead at the Ricoh Women’s British Open. They were the only golfers to get to -6 and actually stay there, as
- world #1 Inbee Park, who got out to a blazing start in her bid to do what nobody else has ever done, with 6 birdies in her 1st 10 holes, had to settle for a 69, as she bogeyed the short par-4 13th, 3-putted 16 and 17 to go double bogey-bogey, then salvaged her round with a fine birdie on 18;
- Katie Burnett opened with a 30 (without even birdieing the lone par 5 on the front!) but stumbled home with 4 bogeys in her last 6 holes to also take a disappointing 69;
- Eun-Hee Ji birdied 6 of her 1st 10 holes and Nicole Castrale birdied 6 of her 1st 11, but each limited their damage to a single bogey the rest of the way, Ji at 13 and Castrale at 15, to join Stacy Lewis, Na Yeon Choi, the JLPGA’s Mi-Jeong Jeon, Ryann O’Toole, and Sydnee Michaels in T2 at -5.
In fact, plenty of players who shot good numbers in the good weather were probably also singing the “coulda woulda shoulda” song in their heads the rest of the day. Angela Stanford, who came in on the red-eye and had her clubs lost on the way, was -5 through 14, but bogeyed 15 and 16 to settle for a 69. Ai Miyazato was -5 through her 1st 12 holes but doubled the 13th and couldn’t find another birdie the rest of the way to join Burnett, Stanford, and the rest of the big group at -3 (among them Hee Kyung Seo, who was -4 until she bogeyed the Road Hole, and Solheim Cup hopeful Sandra Gal, who was -4 through 12 but bogeyed 13 and 14 and came back with a birdie on the Road Hole). Liz Young was also -5 through 12 and also doubled the 13th–what is up with that tiny little hole, anyway?!–but she offset her bogey on the 16th with birdies on the 14th and 17th (yup, on the Road Hole!). Rookie Ayako Uehara was -4 through 15 but bogeyed the 16th to join Young, Paula Creamer, Catriona Matthew, Lizette Salas, Danielle Kang, Pernilla Lindberg, Dori Carter, and amateur Georgia Hall at -4.
On a day when 37 golfers broke 70 and 73 went under par, having to accept a 70 (as Suzanne Pettersen, In-Kyung Kim, Anna Nordqvist, Hee Young Park, Brittany Lincicome, Brittany Lang, Karine Icher, JLPGA money-list leader Rikako Morita, Mamiko Higa, and LET Order of Merit leader Lee-Anne Pace, among others, did), a 71 (as Ji-Yai Shin, Se Ri Pak, Cristie Kerr, Sun Young Yoo, and Chella Choi did), or a 72 (as Laura Davies, Ya Ni Tseng, Jessica Korda, Moriya Jutanugarn, Sophie Gustafson, Jeong Jang, and Pornanong Phatlum, among others, did) is bad enough. You want as big a cushion under par as possible in case the weather turns (and that’s usually a matter of when, not if, in Scotland). But when you’re fighting for a spot on your side’s Solheim Cup team, a bad round has to hurt even more. For Team USA, Jennifer Johnson, Michelle Wie, and Gerina Piller shot 74s. Maybe whoever makes the cut gets the last spot on the team? For Team Euro, it was even worse. It’s bad enough that Beatriz Recari came off her win with the worst score of a day, a 78, but she’s definitely on the team and everyone has an awful day now and then. But 76s from Caroline Masson, Guilia Sergas, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, and Charley Hull? 74s from Carlota Ciganda and Gwladys Nocera? True, Ciganda’s a lock and Masson’s place is almost as secure, but it’s desperation time for Nocera, Sergas, Ewart Shadoff, and Hull. They weren’t alone in wasting a nice day, as 74s from Karrie Webb, Mika Miyazato, Sakura Yokomine, 75s from Lexi Thompson, Chie Arimura, and Momoko Ueda, and 76s from Amy Yang and Ilhee Lee attest. I don’t want to say this week means less to those players–it’s just that a little less is at stake for Thompson, who’s already on Team USA, and the rest, who don’t even have teams to fight for just yet (can’t wait for that new international team competition to roll around!).
Of course, not everybody stumbled down the stretch or had terrible days. Pressel putted like Phil Mickelson did when he won the Open Championship. Creamer, Kang, Lindberg, O’Toole, Marianne Skarpnord, and probably others went bogey-free. Matthew, Ko, and probably others finished birdie-birdie. Malena Jorgensen made 5 birdies in her last 12 holes of bogey-free golf and Caroline Hedwall birdied 3 of her last 5 holes to both break 70. And so on! But it’s time to get tomodachi-chan ready for her flight home to Japan (let’s hope Delta actually makes the connection to Detroit on time from Buffalo today, unlike yesterday, when they told us at the gate that they wouldn’t be able to do that) and I’m still recovering from the last push over the last few days to get my application to teach American Studies in Japan on a Fulbright grant in on time. I might be able to sneak in an hour of WBO coverage before we have to head out to the airport, or I might have to wait. Looking at the scorecards, I couldn’t help but see how a lot of players were doing today. All I can say is, be sure to watch the opening montage and overviews. Miki Saiki did something amazing on the front today!