Veteran & newbie share lead

Seven-time Major champion Karrie Webb of Australia teeing off on the 18th hole in the first round of the US Women's Open, which she has won twice before. While she is joint leader, holder Michelle Wie is already six shots back, although she remains u
Seven-time Major champion Karrie Webb of Australia teeing off on the 18th hole in the first round of the US Women's Open, which she has won twice before. While she is joint leader, holder Michelle Wie is already six shots back, although she remains upbeat about her title defence.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Webb and Alex get initial edge after string of birdies on back 9 as lightning stops play early

LANCASTER (Pennsylvania) • Australian veteran Karrie Webb staged a back-nine birdie blitz to grab a share of the first-round lead at a storm-hit US Women's Open on Thursday.

The seven-time Major champion rolled back the years with a near-flawless opening round, starting with 10 straight pars before notching four birdies down the stretch to finish with a four-under 66 at Pennsylvania's Lancaster Country Club.

The 40-year-old, who won back-to-back Opens in 2000 and 2001, said past experience had taught her to keep her emotions in check as she looked to get off to a smooth start in the tournament.

"I still have my challenges at a US Open," she said. "You always want to do well at this event.

"And, for me, it's about controlling my emotions and not getting too high or too low, especially in the first couple of rounds.

"I did a really good job of that today. I played very well, I didn't miss a fairway. When you play like that, it's not easy but it's less stressful than I could have made it."

Webb finished her round several hours before klaxons sounded across the course shortly after 6pm local time, as an electrical storm churned towards the region. Play was later halted for the day with several players left out on the course.

Joining Webb at the top of the leader board was 24-year-old American Marina Alex, who drained three birdies on her final five holes to also finish on 66.

South Korea's Amy Yang was a shot back with a three-under 67.

New Jersey native Alex has endured a roller-coaster season on the LPGA circuit this year, at one stage missing five consecutive cuts before posting her first top-10 finish of the season a fortnight ago.

However, she revealed that she was starting to reap benefits from technical tweaks she had implemented in recent months.

"Now that I have put some of these changes into play a little more often, I just feel more comfortable and I'm making freer swings and the results are showing from that," said the golfer.

New Zealand prodigy Lydia Ko remains in the hunt, four shots off the lead after an even-par 70, grouped with seven other players, including veteran Laura Davies.

However, it was a disappointing start for defending Open champion Michelle Wie, who shot a two-over 72 after struggling to get to grips with the demanding layout, carding four bogeys and two birdies.

She, however, was bullish about her chances of being able to challenge over the remaining rounds.

"You can't win the tournament on the first day but you definitely can lose it," she told reporters.

"I definitely feel like I'm in there. I think I held it together today.

"I had a lot of opportunities where I had to make big putts, and I'm proud of myself for that.

"It's a tough golf course so I think you have to try to make birdies when you can."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


US WOMEN'S OPEN C'SHIP

Day 3: Singtel TV Ch115 & StarHub Ch209, tomorrow, 2.30am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2015, with the headline 'VETERAN & NEWBIE SHARE LEAD'. Print Edition | Subscribe