Taiwan’s Yani Tseng and Australian Katherine Hull posted 5-under 68s Thursday to lead by a stroke after the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale.
Tseng, twice a major winner in this year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship and the 2008 LPGA Championship, staked her claim to a third one with her bogey-free display, finishing with birdie-eagle.
“I played really, really solid. I hit all greens but one today and I putted pretty well,” Tseng said. “I still missed a lot but I two-putted the 17th for birdie from 40 yards and made eagle at the last from six yards. The last two par 5s were just like long par 4s with the wind so I stayed relaxed and tried to make birdies. It was pretty good.”
Hull, who was in one of the late groups out, eagled the 18th in front of the deserted stands to join Tseng at 4 under. She dropped a stroke at the fourth, had birdies at the seventh, ninth and 10th, and then her closing eagle to trim three strokes off par on the way home.
“I hit a drive and a hybrid onto the last green and holed from 60 feet, a great way to finish,” Hull said. “I had a long talk with my caddie last week and unearthed a secret to improve my game. I had become lazy with my routine and the improvement made all the difference today.”
Tseng made just one birdie on the front nine to be out in 34 and then parred all the way to the 17th before her spectacular finish.
Trailing the leaders are Anne-Lise Caudal of France, who posted the first 69 of the day, and was followed by South Korea’s Amy Lang and Sun Young Yoo, along with Brittany Lincicome of the United States. Caudal, who won the 2008 Portuguese Open on the Ladies European Tour, dropped her only stroke at the first, but then notched four birdies.
“I’ve never played links golf before, only two practice rounds this week, but I played really well today,” Claudal said.
Yang was next in the clubhouse on 69, with one bogey and four birdies.
Lincicome went on more of a roller-coaster ride, picking up six birdies after dropping three strokes in the first two holes.
“I putted really well after four-putting the first for double bogey,” Lincicome said. “Afterwards I hit a lot of really long putts, which is unusual for me, but nice. Being a long hitter helped today as well. Having wedges on to greens instead of mid-irons.”
Fellow American Michelle Wie shared seventh place on 70 with In-Kyung Kim of South Korea.
“I felt good all the way round today,” Wie said. “I hit some good putts, they just didn’t go in until at the end.”
Earlier, veteran Julie Inkster had taken the clubhouse lead with a 71 and was soon joined on 1 under by Jiyai Shin, the South Korean winner of the Evian Masters in France at the weekend.
England’s Laura Davies shot a level-par 72.
“You need to know how to get the ball round this hard golf course in tough conditions,” Davies said. “Experience counts for a lot in this sort of championship.”
Defending champion Catriona Matthews had a 3-over 75, while new U.S. Open champion Paula Creamer shot a 74 with LPGA champion Cristie Kerr going one better on 73.