Australian Sarah Kemp is just two strokes off the lead after the opening round of the RICOH Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale.
Kemp, who finished in tied sixth last weekend in the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters, has continued her solid form by posting a two-under-par 70 on the very challenging layout. Kemp started out with two bogeys and a birdie in her opening nine holes to go out in 36. She came home in three-under par, 34, which included another bogey and four birdies, including three in her last four holes.
The sentiment from players early in the week was that Royal Birkdale would likely provide a stiff test for the best female golfers in the world. On Thursday, the course proved them all correct as low scores were difficult to find even on an ideal weather day. With the sun shining and the wind tempered from previous practice days.
Japan’s Ayako Uehara signed for a four-under 68 to take a one-shot lead over American Mo Martin. Kemp shares third with Americans Morgan Pressel, and Mina Harigae.
Uehara opened her round with a bogey but that would be her only stumbling block of the day. She made three birdies in a four-hole stretch on the front and closed with two more birdies on the back to hold sole possession of the lead.
“[I feel] so great right now, because I shoot 4 under today, and I played with Stacy Lewis and Charley Hull today,” Uehara said. “I enjoyed so much.”
Among the other players lurking a few shots back of Uehara at 1-under-par is defending champion and current Rolex Rankings No. 1 Stacy Lewis.
Queenslander Karrie Webb is tied for 10th after an even par round of 72. Webb, who was in the first group, which teed off at 6.30am local time, recorded four birdies and four bogeys.
Webb was happy with her day, “I’m pretty happy with it, being first off we had pretty good conditions, so I felt there was a score out there to be shot. I played a little bit up and down but even par doesn’t do any damage.”
When asked about the condition of the course, the three time winner of the event, replied “This is my fourth British Open at Birkdale and it’s probably the toughest I have ever seen it. Places where we used to be able to hit it in the long stuff and it would be OK and now it is not, now it is just fairway or crap!”.
It was quite usual for Webb to be out so early, so it she couldn’t go through her normal pre-round routine. “I didn’t have my normal long preparation before my round, my alarm went off just before 4am this morning, so there was no checking emails, no lounging over coffee, it was down the hatch and go and warm up.”
For the rest of the Australian contingent it was mixed results. Stacey Keating shot a two-over-par 74 to be tied for 36th, while amateur Su-Hyun Oh is a further two strokes back and tied for 63rd. Nikki Campbell opened with a 77 to share 86th position. Stephanie Na (79) is tied for 115th, while Bree Arthur (82) is well back and tied for 131st. It was a disappointing day for World No. 1 amateur, Minjee Lee, who is tied for 137th at 11 over. Sarah Jane Smith is two shots further back and tied for 141st.
The second round gets underway at 3.30pm Friday afternoon, Australian Eastern Time, Fox Sports will be showing the second round live from 10pm tonight.