Stacy Lewis fired a stress-free 67 on Thursday to take a one-shot lead in the first round of the US Women’s Open at Pinehurst, NC. Lewis had no bogeys on the day and three birdies at the Pinehurst No.2 golf course, with Michelle Wie one stroke back after a 2-under-par 68. There are still 30 players who have not completed their first round because play was halted early due to weather.
Lewis said after the round she played solid golf, “I didn’t put myself in too bad of spots, and made some birdies.” Saying it was an easy day for her, Lewis explained that the thing that was easy was “I had a lot of tap-in pars…I was really hitting the shots I needed to hit…that’s what made it easy,” she said. Lewis went out early on Thursday, and will face a later tee time on Friday.
Michelle Wie was quite the opposite. Her round on Thursday included five birdies and three bogeys. One of her birdies was on the difficult 18th hole at Pinehurst, to pull her to within one of the lead. “I’ll take it,” said Wie, “any round under par. It was a grind out there today. It will probably be a grind for the next three days.” With the forward tees and Wie’s length, she was expecting to take advantage of the two par-5 holes at Pinehurst, No.2. She did—and she did not—making bogey on one and birdie on the other. “I have to have the mentality that stuff like that is going to happen,” she said about her bogey on the par-5 fifth hole.
Three players share third place after the first round at one-under, including a pair of Australians—Katherine Hull-Kirk and Minjee Lee—and So-Yeon Ryu of South Korea. American Paula Creamer and Australian Karrie Webb finished their first rounds of golf at even par.
The story of the first day, perhaps, was 11-year-old Lucy Li, the youngest qualifier ever for the Women’s US Open. Li went out early on Thursday and shot 8-over-par 78. The round was not that bad, as the sixth-grader was seven-over on three holes alone, which made her only one-over for 15 of those holes. “It was a lot of fun. I kind of struggled today, but it was great” said Li after her round. Asked if she learned anything out there on Thursday, Li replied, “I learned that you’ve got to be patient. One shot at a time. Try to get rid of the big numbers.”
Julie Inkster, 53 years old and playing golf in her 35th US Women’s Open, raised a few eyebrows on Thursday, firing a one-over 71, and is only four shots behind Lewis. “It’s tough. I mean, it’s tough…some holes, where do you hit it…I want to say maybe there’s a half-dozen holes out there I felt like I could really go at the pin.” Inkster has said that this is her last US Women’s Open.
As for the next three rounds for leader Stacy Lewis, she simply wants to stick with a plan she formulated while watching the men play Pinehurst, No.2 last week, “I like to hit a cut a lot, like (US Open winner Martin) Kaymer does. It was cool to see the plan I had laid out in my head, he was kind of doing the same thing.” Lewis said if one of the players is hitting the ball well this week, someone might run away with it. By the same token, she says, “you have to know par is a good number and keep grinding away.”
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Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky