Golfers with Duke, UNC ties struggle through 1st round of Open
Brittany Lang felt good about her putts, just not their outcomes, as she navigated rugged Pinehurst No. 2 on Thursday.
The two-time Duke All-American, now 28 and well into her LPGA career, saw chance after chance to drop further below par in the U.S. Women’s Open first round slip away.
When six consecutive frustrating pars were followed by four bogeys, her great round turned into a 3-over-par 73 that leaves her six shots off the lead.
“I’ve been hitting it great all year today was no different,” said Lang, whose strong, accurate hitting off the tee put her in position for a lower score. “I had a lot of chances but these greens are tough. You are looking and it looks like it’s in and it doesn’t even hit the hole because there is so much slope.”
Playing in her 10th U.S. Women’s Open, Lang has three top 10 finishes on her record. In her two best, she tied for seventh last year at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, New York. In 2005, as an amateur, she tied for second at Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado.
On Thursday at Pinehurst No.2, Lang started her round on the 10th hole and was 2-under through five holes after carding consecutive birdies on 13 and 14.
After a bogey on No. 15 left her at 1-under, Lang began her stretch of scoring par on six consecutive holes. On each of them, she was on the green in two strokes but as unable to sink a birdie putt.
“You have to play them a cup higher than you see,” Lang said. “I hit a lot of great putts today. I think I am just going to try to play them a little higher because I missed them all just a hair low.”
Still at 1-under through 12 holes, Lang bogeyed the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh holes before completing her round with two pars.
On a sweltering hot day where play was noticeably slow, Lang admitting to getting fatigued as the round progressed.
“You tee off on the first hole and you are so jacked up and so excited, then it’s hot and you have stuff to go through,” Lang said. “To be honest I got a little tired there in the middle.”
Another former Duke player, Mina Harigae, turned in a solid, albeit truncated, first round on Thursday.
Harigae was at even par when thunderstorms hit at 7:12 p.m. The fifth-year pro was one of 30 golfers left on the course when play was suspended for the night. She completed 16 holes and will finish the final two holes of her first round this morning prior to playing her second round.
Harigae has four birdies and four bogeys for her round so far.
Current Duke golfer Celine Boutier didn’t fare as well in her first U.S. Women’s Open appearance. A sophomore from France who was the national player of the year for the NCAA champion Blue Devils this spring, Boutier shot a 7-over 77 that puts her in danger of missing the cut.
Boutier, like Lang, had a four-hole stretch in the middle of her round on holes 4-7 that doomed her to a high score. Boutier’s included three bogeys and a double-bogey that vaulted her to 5-over after seven holes.
“I think I maybe struggled today with getting out of the waste areas,” Boutier said. “So I hit a couple of drives that I missed and it was hard for me to reach the greens and just try to make it up for it. So those were kind of my struggles today.”
Boutier did score two birdies on her back nine, including sinking a birdie putt on No. 18 that left her with a good feeling heading into round two.
“It was nice,” Boutier said. “I only had two birdies today so ending with my last one on 18 is always a relief.”
Former UNC golfer Catherine O’Donnell is one shot behind Boutier after shooting an 8-over 78 on Thursday.
Beginning her round on the 10th hole, O’Donnell’s round came unraveled late after the slow pace of play led to waits as long as 10 minutes between shots. O’Donnell bogeyed holes 6 and 7 before scoring a disastrous triple-bogey 7 on the par-4 No. 8 hole.
“I’m such a rhythm player that it really screwed me up,” O’Donnell said. “But I need to get better at it, obviously.”
LEWIS LEADS WIE BY A STROKE AFTER 1ST ROUND
BY DOUG FERGUSON, Associated Press
PINEHURST — Stacy Lewis had at least one thing in common with U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer. She made it around Pinehurst No. 2 without a bogey Thursday in the opening round of the U.S. Women’s Open, and that put her in the lead.
That was about the only worthy comparison after one day of golf’s unique doubleheader.
Lewis managed to keep the stress at a minimum on a steamy morning in the North Carolina sandhills for a 3-under 67, giving her a one-shot lead over Michelle Wie when the opening round was halted because of storms in the area.
“It was such an easy day,” Lewis said, referring to her game more than the golf course. “I played really, really solid, other that I had to make a few par putts. But other than that, I didn’t put myself in too bad of spots and made a few birdies.”
Wie made four birdies on the back nine, and a 10-foot par save on the par-3 17th hole, for a 68.
Comparisons were inevitable for such an occasion — the first time the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open were held on the same course in back-to-back weeks. Pinehurst No. 2 was 1,064 yards shorter than it was for the first round last week.
That didn’t make it any easier.
Lewis, the No. 1 player in women’s golf, and Wie were among five players who broke par when play was suspended with 30 players still on the course. Kaymer led 15 players under par in the first round last week. The scoring average for the women was 75.73, about 2 1/2 shots higher than the opening round for the men.
Former Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu, Katherine Kirk and 18-year-old amateur Minjee Lee were at 69.
“I think we put on a great show,” Wie said. “There are a couple of red numbers out there. There are a lot of people hovering around even par. But I think it’s great. I love that we are playing on the same stage as the men. I think it’s really interesting. It makes it very exciting.”
The show belonged to Lucy Li, the 11-year-old from the Bay Area who became the youngest qualifier in U.S. Women’s Open history. She missed only one fairway and was rarely out of position, though it cost the sixth-grader dearly when she was. Li made one triple bogey and two double bogeys, three blemishes on her card that led to a 78.
“I mean, it’s 8 over,” Li said. “It’s not bad. But I was 7 over in three holes, so that’s 1 over in 15 holes. So yeah, I just need to get rid of the big numbers.”
There were plenty of those to go around.
At least 17 players failed to break 80, including Laura Davies. She had an 82, her worst score in a Women’s Open since Cherry Hills in 2005. Perhaps more shocking was Lydia Ko, Cristie Kerr and defending champion Inbee Park, each of them at 76.
Karrie Webb and Paula Creamer were at 70. Juli Inkster, at 53 and playing in the Women’s Open for the 35th time, had a 71.
“I don’t think the course is on the edge at all,” Webb said. “I think the USGA had to be a little bit cautious. We haven’t played a tournament here with this course setup before, and it is the second week. So I think they’re probably trying to see how the course is playing, just to see where they’re at with the golf course. I think they were just sort of seeing how we handled it.”
Lewis and Wie both studied for Pinehurst No. 2 in their own way.
Lewis played a practice round at Pinehurst a few weeks ago. Instead of showing up on Sunday to watch the men in the final round, she paid close attention over the weekend how Kaymer played on his way to an eight-shot victory. Much like the German, her preferred shot is a fade.
“It was cool to see the plan I had laid out in my head. He was kind of doing the same thing,” Lewis said. “So it was nice coming into the week knowing that y plan as going to work on this golf course. I thought that somebody, like the guys, can run away with this. If you’re hitting the ball well enough, you can definitely run away with it. At the same time, you have to know par is a good number and keep grinding away.”
Wie, who now lives in south Florida, had the yardage books from U.S. Open runner-up Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley. Studying as hard as she did when she was at Stanford, she took a little from each of them and could be headed for another week in contention at a major. Wie was in the last group at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
“I did a lot of homework,” she said. “Just took the notes from both of the books. It really helped just because they played last week in similar conditions. And they’re obviously great players. I definitely learned a thing or two.”
Her putter helped. She rolled in long birdie putts at Nos. 12 and 14, made the good par save after going into a bunker on the 17th and hit her approach to 5 feet on the final hole. It was her lowest opening round in a U.S. Women’s Open. She had started with an 80 or higher four of the last six years.
|At Pinehurst Resort and Country Club, No. 2 Course|
|Purse: $4 million|
|Yardage: 6,649; Par: 70 (35-35)|
|Partial First Round|
|So Yeon Ryu||34-35—69|
|Eun Hee Ji||34-37—71|
|a-Brooke Mackenzie Henderson||33-38—71|
|Na Yeon Choi||36-35—71|
|Sei Young Kim||35-37—72|
|Dewi Claire Schreefel||35-37—72|
|Hee Young Park||36-37—73|
|Yoo Lim Choi||39-37—76|
|Jodi Ewart Shadoff||37-39—76|
|Se Ri Pak||39-37—76|
|Ha Na Jang||39-37—76|
|Sun Young Yoo||36-40—76|
|Jaye Marie Green||40-37—77|
Leaderboard at time of suspended play
|1. Stacy Lewis||-3||F|
|2. Michelle Wie||-2||F|
|3. Minjee Lee||-1||F|
|3. Katherine Kirk||-1||F|
|3. So Yeon Ryu||-1||F|
|6. Paula Creamer||E||F|
|6. Candie Kung||E||17|
|6. Karrie Webb||E||F|
|6. Stephanie Meadow||E||16|
|6. Mina Harigae||E||16|