Ace lifts unheralded Olson to top of leaderboard

World No. 68 Amy Olson is the surprise leader of the US Women's Open on the back of a hole-in-one at the 16th hole.
World No. 68 Amy Olson is the surprise leader of the US Women's Open on the back of a hole-in-one at the 16th hole.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

HOUSTON • A hole-in-one helped Amy Olson grab the first-round lead in the US Women's Open, the year's final women's Major.

She shot a four-under 67 on Thursday at the Champions Golf Club for a one-shot lead over Japan's Hinako Shibuno, Thai Moriya Jutanugarn and South Korean Kim A-lim.

"That hole-in-one was kind of the highlight of the round," said world No. 68 Olson, who has never won an LPGA event. "I was pretty excited to do that at the US Open."

The 28-year-old American, who began on the back nine at the Cypress Creek Course, aced the 16th hole with a 139-yard shot.

South Korean Sung Yu-jin (76) achieved the same feat at the par-three fourth hole on the same course, marking the seventh year in a row that at least one golfer had a hole-in-one in the Major.

Olson kept up the momentum by notching birdies on two of her next three holes, before taking the lead with a birdie on the par-three eighth.

Defending champion Lee Jeong-eun of South Korea shot a 73, putting her in a tie for 55th place.

Compatriot and world No. 1 Ko Jin-young also carded the same score, while second-ranked Kim Sei-young, who won her first Major title in October at the Women's PGA Championship, fired a 72.

Because of concerns about reduced daylight, two layouts, including the Jackrabbit Course, are being used for the first two rounds.

The final two rounds will be played on Cypress Creek but the complexity led to only 23 of the 156 players finishing under par on Thursday.

"Obviously, US Women's Open golf courses are tough to learn, but trying to learn two tough courses is definitely a big task for everyone this week," said South Korean Park In-bee, a seven-time Major champion who shot even par on Jackrabbit. "But with the sunlight (limited), we kind of have to do it."

The winner of the closed-door Major, pushed back from June due to the coronavirus pandemic, will earn US$1 million (S$1.33 million).

American Andrea Lee withdrew on Wednesday because of a positive Covid-19 test, with Japan's Ayaka Watanabe taking her spot in the field.



Day 3: Singtel TV Ch115 & StarHub Ch209, tomorrow, 2am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2020, with the headline 'Ace lifts unheralded Olson to top of leaderboard'. Subscribe