Uehara leads, big names lurk at Royal Birkdale


Royal Birkdale proved a difficult test for the start of the Ricoh Women's British Open, but Japan's Ayako Uehara had little difficulty with the links layout. Here's how things look after Round 1 in England, where Uehara holds a one-shot lead with a pair of notable Americans lurking just off the pace:

Leaderboard: Ayako Uehara (-4), Mo Martin (-3), Morgan Pressel (-2), Mina Harigae (-2), Sarah Kemp (-2), Stacy Lewis (-1), Holly Clyburn (-1), Inbee Park, Lydia Ko, Suzann Pettersen among 14 players at even par

What it means: While Birkdale produced several high scores in the opening round, Uehara overcame an opening bogey to take sole possession of the lead. Her advantage is tenuous, though, as several big names sit within four shots of her after the first round, including each of the top four players in the Rolex Rankings: Lewis, Ko, Park and Pettersen.

Round of the day: Uehara was one of many players to begin her round with a bogey on the difficult opening hole, but she failed to drop a shot from there, getting into red figures after three birdies on a four-hole stretch from Nos. 5-8. She added two more birdies on the back nine, including one on the par-5 18th, to shoot a 4-under 68 as she looks for her first major title.

Best of the rest: Martin ended her day with a flurry of birdies, carding four circles over her final eight holes to finish with a 69 and sole possession of second place. The American hit 12 of 14 fairways and took only 29 putts, looking to add her name to the lengthy list of Americans that have won this year on the LPGA Tour.

Biggest disappointment: A spot shared by two former major champions, as both Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer opened with disappointing rounds of 3-over 75. Wie made five bogeys against just two birdies on her round, while Creamer stumbled out of the gate, playing her first five holes in 5 over. The pair now sit seven shots off the pace and face a significant deficit entering the second round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: It remains to be seen how Uehara plays with the lead, but the list of contenders behind her is a stout one and includes Pressel, who flirted with the top spot in the standings before settling for an opening 70. With so many strong players within four shots of the lead after 18 holes, it's likely that Uehara will face some stiff competition Friday as she looks to protect her advantage.