HOYLAKE, England — South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu took a share of the lead in her Women’s British Open debut, birdieing the final hole for a 2-under 70 at Royal Liverpool.
South Korea’s Haeji Kang also opened with a 70, the highest leading score in the first round since the tournament became a major in 2002, in relatively calm conditions
The 22-year-old Ryu, the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion who won the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic last month, had five birdies and two bogeys. She won the Korean LPGA’s Hanwha Finance Classic last week.
“This is my first time played in England, so I never played this type of golf course,” Ryu said. “It’s really tough, but fun. Always the first experience, really fun and a little tough, but I want to enjoy this type of golf course. … Actually, Tuesday and Wednesday was so bad, so today feels like a really great weather. But you know, in Korea it was a little really strong wind, and a little different from this course. This wind might not be a bad wind. I think today the weather was really great.”
The 21-year-old Kang had six birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey.
“I hit it pretty good out there,” said Kang, winless on the LPGA Tour. “My iron shots were just inside 20 feet all the time, so I could just putt it out.”
She hit 13 greens in regulation and needed only 27 putts in her morning round.
“Oh, it was much better this morning,” Kang said. “As soon as I made the turn, it started blow. But I played yesterday the practice round with the rain, also, so I’m ready.”
Australia’s Karrie Webb, the tournament winner in 1995, 1997 and 2002, was stroke back along with 16-year-old English amateur Charley Hull, Jiyai Shin, Ai Miyazato, Mika Miyazato, Stacey Keating, Lydia Hall, Vicky Hurst and Kate Kutcher.
“I think it counts for a little bit,” Webb said about her experience in the event. “But you’ve still got to go out there and hit the shot, and you’ve got to commit to the lines that you want to hit your shots on. … There’s a lot of links courses that there’s a side to miss on, and I don’t think this course, especially off the tee, there’s a side to miss on. You’ve just got to get up there and hit a good shot.”
Shin, the 2008 winner at Sunningdale, won the Kingsmill Championship on Monday in Virginia, beating Paula Creamer on the ninth hole of a playoff.
Two-time defending champion Yani Tseng opened with a 72. She played alongside Ai Miyazato and Creamer, who shot a 73.
“I feel pretty good, first day of the tournament,” Tseng said. “I feel like I’m hitting so many good shots out there, making some good putts to save the par, and I’m very happy and very enjoyed playing with Ai and Paula today. It’s a four day tournament, just have to be patient on this tough golf course, and today maybe it’s kind of a good day to make some more birdies but I don’t think you want to try too hard out there, because the harder you try, the worse you get.”
New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, the 15-year-old amateur coming off a victory three weeks ago in the Canadian Women’s Open, also shot a 72.
“I think some people say that I should be able to win again, but I mean, you never know,” said Ko, the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history. “You could be playing good the day before and not so good the day after, and I think that’s all about golf, you play every shot and every round. Yeah, they are probably expecting a big thing from me and yeah, but I’m not going to take that much interest. Just got to play my own game. It’s not like I’m going to play any better by thinking that they want me to play really good.”