Davies of Old Topping Augusta Field


Big hitter Laura Davies looked like her old self during the first round of the Asahi Ryokuken International Championship. The Coventry native recorded back-to-back birdies right out of the gate and went on to make eagle on the par-5 16th en route to a 5-under 67.
With her ball resting on the apron at No. 16, Davies placed all bets on her putter and soundly moved to 4-under par, establishing herself as the leader of this second-year event by two strokes.
Hit a good drive, had like 218 to the pin, but it was uphill into the wind and hit a 3-iron, just managed to get it to the front edge and had about an 80-foot impossible snaking putt and knocked it in,' Davies said. 'Enjoyed that one. That was fun.'
Treacherous holes lurked just around the corner at Mount Vintage and Davies found out just how true that statement was when she faltered on the very next hole, dropping back to 3-under as she made the turn.
Another bogey, on the par-4 second, left her floundering amid a pack of players tied at 2-under. Birdie on the par-4 fifth was sweet redemption for the former Player of the Year (1996), moving her back to 3-under and as the established leader once again. The Englishwoman then broadened her lead with two more birdies during her round to finish at minus 5.
'You can see that people are 1- and 2-under, which is unusual,' Davies said of the difficult conditions.
'If you're not 5-under day 1, you're out of the top 10. So it's understandable because these greens are very demanding. You hear that they're hard, and hitting into them is the hardest thing. You can't fire at the pin.'
Grace Park made the turn Thursday in 34 strokes with one bogey and three birdies under her belt. Park finished the day two strokes off the lead with her opening-round 69. 'I shot 69 last week and I wasn't even top 15,' Park said. 'And this week I'm second. So, you know, it says a lot about this course and the toughness of it.'
Despite solid play which has netted her $259,953 and six top-10 finishes in eight starts, Park is still winless this season.
A foursome is tied for third. Janice Moodie, Dawn Coe-Jones, Carin Koch and Jeong Jang all opened with 2-under-par 70.
Only 15 competitors managed to break par in round one, and Davies and Park were the only two to break 70. Some less fortunate had a very rough go of it.
Defending champion Tina Fischer had gotten off to a great start before falling apart with a round that consisted of five bogeys and two birdies and left her in the back of the bus with amateur players Shinobu Moromizato and Hawaiis Michelle Wie, both of whom are four or more strokes over par. Fischer faired only slightly better than the amateurs recording 3-over 75.
Moromizato, the 15-year-old Japanese amateur, played safe golf after recording three bogeys during her first five holes of the day. She would go on to make seven pars before incurring yet another bogey on the par-4 fourth. Moromizato was 5-over through 14 holes.
Wie, unlike Moromizato, recorded a lone birdie during her round. The 12-year-old was in 125th position, at 7-over, through the 13th. She made two more bogeys, and then had a moment of relief on the par-5 16th where she recorded birdie.
As a testament to just how difficult the course was playing Carmen Hajjar recorded 12-over 84 in the opening round of her fourth LPGA Tour tournament of the season. The 35-year-old Ausie bogeyed or double-bogeyed all but two holes on the front nine. It had to be a disappointing day Hajjar who holds exempt status on the LPGA Tour. Julie Piers, a ten-year veteran on the LPGA, matched Hajjars high score.
Full-field scores from the Asahi Ryokuken International