Australia's Katherine Hull-Kirk
Queensland’s Katherine Hull-Kirk is just three off the lead after the opening round of the RICOH Women’s British Open being played at the “home of golf”, the Old Course, St Andrews, Scotland.
Hull-Kirk, who was runner-up to Yani Tseng at Royal Birkdale in 2010, fired a three-under par, 69 to trail co-leaders American Morgan Pressel and Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth. Hull-Kirk’s round included five birdies and two bogeys.
It is a packed leaderboard with 37 players within three shots of the lead and another 16 players at two-under-par, including fellow compatriot Lindsey Wright.
However, it was Pressel and Lennarth leading the way. Lennarth, who final qualified at Kingsbarns on Monday, made a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-four 18th in fading light in front of the famous R&A clubhouse on The Old Course at St Andrews to join major champion Pressel on six-under-par 66.
This Lennarth’s first visit to the Home of Golf and the 25-year-old from Stockholm made the perfect start as she hit 18 fairways and as many greens, with six birdies, including at the first and the last.
“This is my first time at St. Andrews and first time at the British Open,” said Lennarth.“I’m very satisfied. I hit all the fairways and all the greens and it went pretty smooth out there.
“When I made birdie on the first hole, I thought, okay, I’m at least going to make one birdie at this tournament! I’ve been very excited. Ever since I qualified on Monday I’ve been looking forward to this, since I grew up. I’m very happy that I made it here and that was the thought. No matter what happens out here, I’m just going to enjoy every moment and take it all in.”
Playing under sunny skies earlier in the afternoon, the more experienced Pressel set the target at six-under. Pressel, had a chance to go to seven-under-par on 18 but missed her birdie putt, which kept her from matching her lowest round in a major championship -- 65 which she shot in the third round of the 2010 Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale.
Pressel may be chasing her second career major title and a spot on this year’s U.S. Solheim Cup this week but all eyes were on Rolex Ranked World No. 1 Inbee Park on Thursday morning as she began her chase for a slice of history. Park is trying to become the first golfer – male or female—to win four professional majors in a single season. Park got off to a flying start and moved to six-under when she birdied the 10th hole. However, she came home three-over par for the remaining 8 holes and is in the group of players, including Hull-Kirk at three-under.
American Stacy Lewis also put herself in the hunt for a second career major title on Thursday, shooting a 5-under 67 to take the early clubhouse lead. She finished the day in a tie for second with six other players including Rolex Ranking No. 3 Na Yeon Choi.
Of the remaining Australians, Sarah Kemp is tied for 92nd position after a 73, while Karrie Webb and Stacey Keating are a further shot back and tied for 104th. Bree Arthur, Sarah Jane Smith, Nikki Campbell and Whitney Hillier are at three-over and tied for 120th.
The top 65 players and ties will make the cut at the conclusions of the second round. At the moment the projected cut is one-under-par.