Ko links up well with a 66

Lydia Ko, on the ninth tee on the first day of the Women's British Open, has had the benefit of spending time in Scotland. Last week, she took part in the Scottish Open where she finished tied fourth. Her caddie says she is picking up skills in playi
Lydia Ko, on the ninth tee on the first day of the Women's British Open, has had the benefit of spending time in Scotland. Last week, she took part in the Scottish Open where she finished tied fourth. Her caddie says she is picking up skills in playing links golf.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

She's off to a fast start in Women's British Open, just one stroke behind leader Kim

LONDON • New Zealand teenager Lydia Ko yesterday fired her best round at a Major - a six-under-par 66 in the first round at the Women's British Open.

However, it was South Korean Kim Hyo Joo who had the clubhouse lead at the Trump Turnberry Resort in Ayrshire after she carded a bogey-free 65.

The 20-year-old LPGA Tour rookie already has a Major to her name, having won last season's fifth Major, the Evian Championship.

And she put herself in prime position to win another in her Women's British Open debut with five birdies, and an eagle on the 449-yard, par-five 14th.

Jason Hamilton, Ko's caddie, said the morning starters had taken full advantage of an ideal draw.

"This course depends on mother nature and although it was quite breezy when we started, she managed to knock it pretty close and get a good look at the pins all day," he said.

Ko has acclimatised to links golf.

She took part in the Scottish Open at Dundonald Links further up the coast last week.

Then, she tied for fourth place.

"Playing in Scotland meant there was no great hurry to get to Turnberry and she learns every time she plays a links course," said Hamilton of her overseas foray.

For her part, Ko thought she had played solidly and if she did miss, it was in the right places where she could make up-and-downs.

Not even the noise of Donald Trump's private helicopter landing at the hotel in the latter stages of her round bothered her.

"He flew above us at the perfect time and I was like, man, that's a really nice helicopter. I would love one," said the 18-year-old.

Ko birdied four straight holes from the second. After dropping a shot, she picked up another at the 7th to go out in 32.

Two more birdies on the back nine helped the world No. 2 to a fast start as she seeks her first Major title.

Her best result at a Major was second at the 2013 Evian Championship in France as an amateur.

American Mo Martin began her title defence when she posted a two-under 70.

But Karrie Webb, the three-time winner who triumphed here in 2002, had a lot to do to after a disappointing eight-over 80.

Among the other early strugglers were former US Open champion Michelle Wie and 2011 Women's British Open runner-up Brittany Lang. The American duo both carded a four-over 76.

World No. 1 Park In Bee of South Korea, who is hoping to claim the fourth stage of a potential career grand slam, was among the afternoon starters.

At press time, the six-time Major champion was even-par after 11 holes. THE TIMES, LONDON

WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2015, with the headline 'KO LINKS UP WELL WITH A 66'. Print Edition | Subscribe