WOBURN, United Kingdom: South Korea’s Lee Mirim admitted that “everything was perfect” after she shot a course record ten under par 62 to lead the first round of the Women’s British Open on Thursday (Friday in Manila).
The stunning 10-birdie round earned a three-shot lead over Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn, who leapt into the limelight on the LPGA Tour in May when she won three tournaments on the trot.
China’s Feng Shanshan was in third place on 66 despite almost missing her tee-off time.
For Lee, the immediate goal is not to stage a repeat of her experience at this month’s US Women’s Open.
She led after a first round 64 at Cordevalle in California but then took ten shots more on day two on her way to finishing tied 11th.
And the two-time career winner — both victories were in 2014 — was wary of taking anything for granted.
After a round that was one outside the record for a women’s major—South Korea’s Kim Hyo-Joo shot 61 in the first round of the 2014 Evian Championship—she warned: “Today was great, but it is only the first round.”
Jutanugarn, 20, had a flawless seven birdie 65.
“I love this course,” said the player whose older sister, Moriya, is also in the field and celebrated her 22nd birthday with a 69.
“This year I have had so much fun when I play golf. I don’t really like links courses so I am pleased the British Open has come here. Tomorrow I just want to maintain my focus and not worry too much about the result.”
Jutanugarn has had a great run in this season’s three majors to date. She finished fourth in the ANA Inspiration, third at the Women’s PGA Championship and tied 17th at the US Women’s Open.
“This week is really important to me,” she continued. “My goal right now, even one time in my life, is to win a major.”
Feng had a scare when she nearly missed her starting time.
She jumped out of the buggy taking her from the putting green to the tee and ran the final 60 yards to make it with little to spare.
“I’m here,” she yelled as she ducked under the rope. “I miscalculated the rides between the range, the practice putting green and the course,” she explained later.
“The first player in my group was teeing off when I go to there. I was next and so I made it with about 30 seconds to spare.”
But she still managed to hit a decent tee shot and went on to stack six birdies, including four in a row from the sixth, into her immaculate round.
For American Stacy Lewis, the 2013 Champion at St Andrews, a rather important event has been squeezed in between this major and the Olympic Games in Rio.
She is marrying University of Houston golf coach, Gerrod Chadwell, a week on Saturday.
“It seemed a bit better idea when we planned it,” admitted the Texan after an opening 67.
“But it is what it is. I want to do the wedding and then go on honeymoon and enjoy Rio. I want the Olympics to be fun and not stress about a medal.”
The world’s top two had quiet openings. Lydia Ko shot 74 and Brooke Henderson was on 71.