Hanson Leads Kerr at Williams
Cristie Kerr is alone in second place at 5-under-par 65. Liselotte Neumann, Grace Park, Catriona Matthew and last week's State Farm Classic winner Patricia Meunier-Lebouc share third place at minus 4.
Hanson broke into red figures early Friday with a 14-foot birdie putt at No. 1. She added a four-foot birdie at the par-5 third and collected another birdie at the eighth when she laced a 5-iron to four feet.
Hanson continued her fine form on the back nine when she landed an 8-iron three feet from the hole to set up birdie at 11. She knocked a seven-iron to 12 feet for birdie at 15 and made it back-to-back birdies with a 20-footer at the par-5 16th.
She ran into trouble at the 18th after her ball fell against the lip of a greenside bunker. Hanson hit a soft pitch out of the trap to save par and keep the first-round lead to herself.
'I've been working on my bunker play this week,' said Hanson, who is winless in seven years on the LPGA Tour. 'I saw exactly where I needed to hit it and I put it right there.
'I hit my driver well so it's much easier to hit it closer to the pins from the fairways than the rough and that is the first key. The second key is I did hit some good iron shots. I was able to attack the pins and I felt good with my putter.'
Kerr recorded two early birdies with a pair of five-footers at three and four, but her play around the turn moved her up the leaderboard.
She drained a 25-foot birdie putt at the seventh and knocked a 4-iron inches from the hole for a tap-in birdie at the 194-yard ninth. Kerr's run continued on the back nine when she holed a 15-foot birdie at 10 and an eight-footer at the 11th.
Kerr, who will make her Solheim Cup debut for the American team in two weeks, ran into trouble at the 18th. She pushed her drive right and missed her second right of the green. Kerr's pitch landed 10 feet from the hole and she two-putted for bogey, dropping out of the lead.
'I am a little upset at the last hole,' said Kerr, who won for the first time on tour at the Long Drugs Challenge in April. 'I mean I'm happy with the way I was hitting the ball, executing and thinking.'
Annika Sorenstam, playing for the first time on the LPGA Tour since missing the cut at the Women's British Open, posted a 2-under 68. She is tied for seventh with Maggie Will and Kris Tschetter.
Se Ri Pak, a three-time winner on tour in 2002, struggled to a 5-over-par 75 and is tied for 105th.
Gloria Park, who won this event in 2001, opened her title defense with a 2-over 72 and shares 49th place.
Full-field scores from the Williams Championship
Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship
Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.
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Watch: Highlights from Tiger's first round at East Lake
Tiger Woods is back at the season-ending Tour Championship for the first time since 2013, and he provided the fans in Atlanta with some highlights on the first day of competition.
Still looking for his first win of the year after coming close on numerous occasions, Woods started the day off by splitting the fairway on the first hole with the driver, not even bothering to watch his ball land.
Despite the picture-perfect opening tee shot, Woods would go on to bogey the first hole, but he rebounded with back-to-back birdies on 5 and 6, making putts from 26 and 15 feet.
Tiger's best shot on the front nine came on the par-4 seventh hole after he found the pine straw behind a tree with his drive. The 14-time major champ punched one under the tree limbs and onto the green, then calmly two-putted for par from about 40 feet en route to a front-side 1-under 34.
Woods added two more birdies on the par-4 12th and 14th holes, rolling in putts of 3 feet and 7 feet after a couple of great looking approach shots.
Garcia (66) peaking for Ryder Cup?
Sergio Garcia might be finding his form just in time to terrorize the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Garcia made seven birdies during an opening round of 5-under 66 to sit just two shots off the early lead at the European Tour’s Portugal Masters.
It was Garcia’s fifth consecutive round of par or better, a stretch that includes rounds of 66-65-67-70-66. That solid play at the Wyndham Championship wasn’t enough to extend his PGA Tour season – he didn’t qualify for the FedExCup playoffs – but the Spaniard is starting to round into form with the Ryder Cup on deck.
A few weeks ago he was a controversial selection by European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn. After missing the cut in all four majors, Garcia could have been left at home in favor of such players as Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Wallace (a three-time winner this season who, once again, is at the top of the leaderboard in Portugal), Matt Fitzpatrick or Thomas Pieters. But Bjorn tabbed Garcia, noting his Ryder Cup experience, his sterling foursomes record and his influence in the team room. If Phil Mickelson is the U.S. player under the most pressure to perform in Paris, all eyes will be on Garcia next week – especially since it could be one of his final opportunities to wear a European uniform, as he’ll be 40 for the 2020 matches.
Garcia’s 66 matched his lowest opening round of the year and puts him in position to secure just his second top-10 since March.
Watch: 100mph storm destroys tent at St. Andrews
The first named storm of the season struck Wednesday, bringing 100 mph gusts, killing two people and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power in parts of Ireland, Scotland and England.
According to the Courier no one was injured in the St. Andrews area, but a video posted from the home of golf shows just how powerful the storm was as wind absolutely destroyed one of the hospitality tents set up in advance of the Dunhill Links Championship:
TAKE CARE – ST ANDREWS OLD COURSE AREA— Fife Police (@FifePolice) September 19, 2018
Police in Fife are asking the public to take care around St Andrews Old Course after reports of tents from the Alfred Dunhill Links Championships site being blown about. #stormy #stormAli #staysafe
While plenty of clean-up is sure to be needed, officials say the Dunhill Links, which also be conducted at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, will go on as scheduled October 4-7.