SOUTHPORT, England – Yani Tseng shot a 4-under 68 in the opening round at Royal Birkdale on Thursday, and is tied for the lead as she pursues her third major title.
The rising star from Taiwan shot a bogey-free round that included a birdie and an eagle on the two finishing holes, putting her in a tie for the lead with Australian Katherine Hull.
“I played really, really solid. I hit all greens but one today and I putted pretty well,” said Tseng, who already has won the Kraft Nabisco Championship this season to go with the LPGA Championship she won in 2008.
“The last two par-fives were just like long par-fours with the wind, so I stayed relaxed and tried to make birdies,” Tseng said. “It was pretty good
Hull was among the last players on the course and also made an eagle on the 18th hole – in front of nearly deserted grandstands – to join Tseng at 4 under. Hull dropped a stroke at the fourth hole before rattling off three birdies in a four-hole stretch beginning at No. 7.
“I hit a drive and a hybrid onto the last green and holed from 60 feet, a great way to finish,” Hull said. “I had a long talk with my caddie last week and unearthed a secret to improve my game. I had become lazy with my routine and the improvement made all the difference.”
Anne-Lise Caudal of France took the early lead with her round of 3-under 69, and she was matched later in the day by South Korea’s Kim Lang and Sun Young Yoo, along with Brittany Lincicome of the United States.
“I’ve never played links golf before, only two practice rounds this week” said Caudal, the 2008 Portuguese Open winner. “I played really well today.
Like Caudal, Yang had only one bogey during her round, while Lincicome was in for a much more interesting trip around Royal Birkdale. She dropped three strokes on the first two holes before playing the rest of her round in 6-under par.
“I putted really well after four-putting the first for double-bogey,” she said. “Afterwards I hit a lot of really long putts, which is unusual for me, but nice.”
“Being a long hitter helped today as well, having wedges onto greens instead of mid-irons.”
Fellow American Michelle Wie opened with a 2-under 70, as did In-Kyung Kim of South Korea.
“I felt good all the way round today,” Wie said. “I hit some good putts, they just didn’t go in until at the end.”
Julie Inkster opened with a 71, along with Jiyai Shin, the South Korean star who won the Evian Masters in France last weekend. England’s Laura Davies shot a level-par 72, LPGA champion Christie Kerr shot 73 and reigning U.S. Open champ Paula Creamer had a 75.
Defending champion Catriona Matthews was at 3-over 75 after the opening round.
“You need to know how to get the ball round this hard golf course in tough conditions,” Davies said. “Experience counts for a lot in this sort of championship.”