Pair Share Futures Lead
But the four-time All-American from Duke University and 2003 U.S. Women's Amateur champion finally stepped up to lead a round for the first time this rookie season at the $70,000 Betty Puskar Futures Golf Classic. And she held the first-round lead alone at 5-under-par 67 until Melanie Holmes-Smith of Melbourne, Australia, posted her own 67 late in the day to climb into a tie for the lead.
'I haven't been in the low numbers for a while,' said Nirapathpongporn of Bangkok, Thailand, whose 67 ties her season-low round. 'Honestly, I was feeling the pressure a lot this season, but I have to blame myself for letting it happen. I just have to give myself some room.'
The former Duke star, who turned pro after this spring's NCAA Women's Golf Championship, and rookie Holmes-Smith, put some room between themselves and the rest of the field today. Only Sung Ah Yim of Seoul, Korea, posted a round in the 60s. Yim, who currently is ranked No. 6 on the Futures Tour's Money List, carded a 3-under-par 69 at The Pines Country Club in the Tour's 13th annual visit to the University of West Virginia's hometown.
'This course is up and down [hilly], longer and wider than last week's course and that is nice,' said Yim, 20, also a rookie.
Six players tied at 2-under 70 and six tied at 1-under 71. For the day, 27 players finished the first round at even-par 72 or better on the 6,287-yard course with spaghetti rough. Hit it in the fairway or on the green and players could score. Hit it in the rough and call the yardman.
Michelle Simpson of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., was among the 15 players who recorded an 'other' score on the round's statistical chart for the 209-yard, par-3 17th hole. 'Other,' as in something other than a bogey.
'I hit the green and four-putted on that hole,' said Simpson, who finished the day at 2-under 70.
But while The Pines offered the 144-player field generous fairways and smooth-rolling greens, the lengthy rough kept players focused on the short grass and on making every available birdie.
Nirapathpongporn, who has three top-20 finishes this season, got off to a good start when she holed out of a bunker on the first hole from 20 yards for birdie. She added five more birdies from a range of 4 to 20 feet, with only one bogey on the 10th hole after she failed to get up and down for par from a long bunker shot.
But the par-4 10th hole was no friend to anyone Friday, playing as the day's toughest hole and averaging 5.01 strokes for the field for the uphill 394-yard poke. It tripped up the Thai star. It also snagged Yim, who missed the 10th green.
Friday's 67 also was the season's low round for Holmes-Smith, who joined the Futures Tour during the second week of June in Lima, Ohio. She carded 25 putts today and said her opening-round score was the result of her new mental approach, thanks to help from her sports psychologist.
'It hasn't been pretty lately,' said the Aussie, whose best finish this season has been a tie for 19th in Vermont in early July. 'Usually, I'm having to make 35-foot bombs for par. But this feels very natural. Hopefully, I can go back out there and stay aggressive.'
Ditto for Nirapathpongporn, who hopes to add to her resume this week.
'I know what I have in me and I know how to use it when it matters,' she said. 'It's not like I havent been here before.'
Saturdays second round of the 54-hole tournament will begin at 8 a.m., off the first and 10th tees. The leaders will tee off at 2:09 p.m.
Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1
Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.
So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.
Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.
Jordan Spieth: 7/4
Xander Schauffele: 5/1
Kevin Kisner: 11/2
Tiger Woods: 14/1
Francesco Molinari: 14/1
Rory McIlroy: 14/1
Kevin Chappell: 20/1
Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1
Alex Noren: 25/1
Zach Johnson: 30/1
Justin Rose: 30/1
Matt Kuchar: 40/1
Webb Simpson: 50/1
Adam Scott: 80/1
Tony Finau: 80/1
Charley Hoffman: 100/1
Austin Cook: 100/1
Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.
One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.
McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.
“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”
McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.
“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”
Kisner not expecting awkward night with Spieth
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It might get awkward in that star-studded rental house Saturday night.
Two of the three Open co-leaders, Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner, are sharing a house this week near Carnoustie. Though it’ll be late by the time they both get back to the house Saturday night, they’ll have plenty of time to kill Sunday morning, with their tee times not until nearly 3 p.m. local time.
“Everybody is probably going to get treatment and eating and trying to find a bed,” Kisner said. “I’m sure there’ll be some conversations. There always are. Everybody has a few horror stories or good laughs over something that happened out there. That will probably be the end of it.”
One thing they’re almost certain to discuss is the weather.
After three days of mostly benign conditions, Sunday’s forecast calls for warm temperatures and wind gusts up to 25 mph.
“When you watch any TV, that’s all they talk about – how Sunday’s coming,” Kisner said. “It’s going to be a true test, and we’ll get to see really who’s hitting it the best and playing the best.”
Zach Johnson is also in the house – along with Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker and Jason Dufner – and he rode to the course Saturday with Kisner, with whom he played in the final group, at 4 p.m. It’s unclear whether the co-leaders Sunday will have a similar arrangement.
This is the third year that Spieth and Co. have shared a house at The Open, though Kisner is a new addition to the group.
“It’s the end of the week,” Kisner said. “Everybody’s got a lot of stuff going on. Everybody’s going their separate ways tomorrow. Tomorrow morning we’ll all sit around and laugh on the couch and talk about why that guy’s making so many birdies.”
Final-round tee times for the 147th Open Championship
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth begins his quest for a second consecutive claret jug and fourth major overall at 9:45 a.m. ET Sunday at Carnoustie, playing alongside Xander Schauffele. This marks the first time Schauffele has ever held a 54-hole lead in his career.
The Kevins – Kisner and Chappell – are in the penultimate group, 10 minutes earlier at 9:35 a.m. Kisner is tied with Spieth and Schauffele at 9 under par. Chappell is two shots back at 7 under.
But it’s the next group that has people interested the most. Tiger Woods is paired with Francesco Molinari at 9:25 a.m. Woods, in search of his 15th major championship and first in 10 years, shot a third-round 66 to vault into a tie for sixth place, four shots behind the lead. He began the day six shots behind. Molinari has two wins and two second-place finishes in his last four events.
Rory McIlroy was within striking distance of the lead but bogeyed two of the last three holes to drop into a sixth-place tie. He is paired with 2017 Open runner-up Matt Kuchar at 9:05 a.m.
3:00AM ET: Beau Hossler
3:10AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Rafa Cabrera Bello
3:20AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Si-Woo Kim
3:30AM ET: Luke List, Keegan Bradley
3:40AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele
3:50AM ET: Tyrrell Hatton, Paul Dunne
4:00AM ET: Cameron Davis, Brooks Koepka
4:10AM ET: Brett Rumford, Kevin Na
4:20AM ET: Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey
4:30AM ET: Gavin Green, Ryan Fox
4:45AM ET: Shubhankar Sharma, Gary Woodland
4:55AM ET: Sam Locke (a), Masahiro Kawamura
5:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Rhys Enoch
5:15AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Jason Day
5:25AM ET: Adam Hadwin, Yuta Ikeda
5:35AM ET: Sung Kang, Brandon Stone
5:45AM ET: Thomas Pieters, Stewart Cink
5:55AM ET: Lee Westwood, Julian Suri
6:05AM ET: Tom Lewis, Marc Leishman
6:15AM ET: Ross Fisher, Jason Dufner
6:30AM ET: Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed
6:40AM ET: Phil Mickelson, Eddie Pepperell
6:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Bernhard Langer
7:00AM ET: Michael Kim, Patrick Cantlay
7:10AM ET: Shaun Norris, Lucas Herbert
7:20AM ET: Sean Crocker, Louis Oosthuizen
7:30AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Satoshi Kodaira
7:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Danny Willett
7:50AM ET: Haotong Li, Kyle Stanley
8:00AM ET: Chris Wood, Byeong Hun An
8:15AM ET: Erik Van Rooyen, Yusaku Miyazato
8:25AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau
8:35AM ET: Adam Scott, Charley Hoffman
8:45AM ET: Justin Rose, Austin Cook
8:55AM ET: Tommy Fleetwood, Zach Johnson
9:05AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Rory McIlroy
9:15AM ET: Webb Simpson, Alex Noren
9:25AM ET: Francesco Molinari, Tiger Woods
9:35AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Kevin Chappell
9:45AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele