CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Meena Lee overcame wet conditions and shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday for a two-shot clubhouse lead in the first round of the Women’s British Open.
The South Korean had seven birdies and no bogeys in her round played mainly in a heavy afternoon downpour.
“I like links golf. It’s very different to what we play on the LPGA and I really enjoyed it today, despite the weather,” Lee said.
Two strokes back was American Brittany Lincicome, who started her round in good conditions early in the morning and set the early pace with a 5-under 67.
Among a group at 68 were American Angela Stanford, South Korea’s Amy Yang, Germany’s Caroline Masson and Sweden’s Sofie Gustafson.
Twice a winner on the LPGA Tour in her first two seasons after turning professional in 2005, Lee is making her second visit to Scotland, having played in the British Open at St. Andrews in 2007.
Lee opened Thursday with a birdie at the first when she hit her 7-iron second to 6 feet. She birdied the long sixth after hitting a sand wedge to 12 feet, made a 20-foot putt for birdie at the seventh and holed from nine feet at the ninth.
Putts for birdies from similar lengths followed at the 11th and long 14th. At the 17th Lee hit two 5-woods to 45 feet and took two putts for her final birdie.
Lincicome made her charge starting at the 12th, where she made a 15-foot birdie putt. She hit a 7-iron to 7 feet at the 13th and holed the putt. Lincicome hit a huge drive on the 14th – “must have been 300 yards,' she said – and then a 6-iron to 10 feet and holed that for an eagle. She also birdied the long 17th.
“I played really well,” she said. “I didn’t take advantage of some chances on the front nine but then really got going from the 12th. This is a great golf course and it seems to suit my game really well so I’m looking forward to the next three days.”
Paula Creamer had two eagles and finished with a 69, along with Swedish rookie Caroline Hedwall, Japan’s Momoko Ueda and Mika Miyazato, South Koreans Na Yeon Choi and Song-Hee Kim, Taiwan’s Amy Hung and Canadian Lorie Kane.
Morgan Pressel and three-time winner Karrie Webb shot 70s, one better than defending champion Yani Tseng of Taiwan. Cristie Kerr had a 72, while Michelle Wie had a lackluster 74.
American Kristy McPherson made a sensational start and reached the turn in 5-under 31, but faltered on the back nine and finished with a 71, the same as Natalie Gulbis.
Last week’s Evian Masters winner Ai Miyazato of Japan bogeyed the first five holes on her way to a 76, while former three-time winner Sherri Steinhauer slumped to a 78.