LPGA Release – August 03, 2018: Minjee Lee could certainly wear the badge of one of the “best players without a major.” The four-time LPGA winner is in the midst of a career best season on the LPGA Tour. The eighth ranked player in the Rolex Rankings already has a win, as well as seven more top 10 finishes in 2018. Aditi Ashok shot an even 72 in the opening round.
Aditi offset birdies at the first and eighth holes with bogeys at the immediate next hole on both occasions. The action heated up for the young Indian at the turn. She accounted for three of her four bogeys on the day in a four hole stretch from the ninth.
A birdie at the par-5 15th helped her climb back to even par and she finished the day lying in T45, a good seven strokes off the pace set by the leader.
Lee continued to make the case for why her name should be added to the storied list of major champions by opening with a 7-under par, 65 to take the lead on day one of the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes. The Aussie leads by one-stroke ahead of the JLPGA’s Mamiko Higa. A group sits two-strokes behind at 5-under par, including two-time major champion Sung Hyun Park, rookie Georgia Hall, Mi Hyang Lee and Teresa Lu. Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum is also two-back after a bogey-free, 67 for her first sub-70 round in eight starts at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
Lee’s ability to navigate away from the more than 160 pot bunkers was the key to her success on Thursday. She found herself in only a handful throughout the day. And, she got hot with the putter. Lee rolled in putts from nearly 30 feet, including one from long range for eagle at the par 5, 15th hole. She followed that up with another birdie to climb to 8-under par and extend her lead to two. Her only blemish of the day came in a dropped shot at the par 4, 17th that cut her lead to one. She closed with a par at the difficult closing hole to record her low round in the Women’s British Open.
“I think everybody’s going to be happy with like a 20-footer on every hole if they could have it,” Lee said after the round. “I managed to hole a couple of long putts, so that really helped me with my round today.”
Lee has had mixed success in her four prior starts at the Women’s British Open, where she’s twice missed the cut and only once finished in the top 10. Lee says the wind was her biggest challenge in years past. Thursday, she got the better end of the draw in the afternoon and avoided the rainy spell that affected the players in the morning. The afternoon wave basked in cloudless sunshine and Lee wondered after her round whether there was any wind at all. It was a welcome reprieve after she battled rain and 35 mph wind gusts in Scotland last week, where she finished runner-up.
“If you play it every single week, I think it would be pretty draining,” Lee said about playing links golf. “It’s a treat when we do get to play them.”
Thursday night, Lee will sleep on the overnight lead in a major championship for the first time in her career. But, she won’t have long to sleep. She’s on the early side of the draw Friday morning at 7:25 a.m. But if she can keep getting good breaks, like the better end of the draw, Lee could be wearing a new badge on Sunday. Major champion.
Hall Gets Off to Bogey-Free Start
A year after finishing in a tie for third at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns, Georgia Hall is once again in the hunt for the season’s fourth major. Last year, the Englishwoman opened with a 68 to surge to the top of the leaderboard. This year, she did one better. She opened with a bogey-free, 67 at Royal Lytham & St Annes to sit two-strokes back of the lead on day one.
“I love coming back here and I have a lot of confidence from last year,” Hall said after her round. “This golf course is really, really tough and to play the round bogey-free, I’m actually really happy.”
Like last year at Kingsbarns, Georgia has her father, Wayne, on her bag this week. The pair worked together throughout Georgia’s amateur career. Having a front row seat to see his daughter play is a rare opportunity this year with Georgia, a rookie in 2018, playing full time on the LPGA Tour.
“He’s done the last like three or four British Opens, Scottish Opens. And we played so well together last year that it’s definitely right for him to be on the bag this week and last week.”
The rookie has been on an upward trend in recent weeks. She picked up her first top 10 of the year last month in Wisconsin and looks to keep the momentum rolling this week close to home.
Since last year’s Championship, a lot has changed for Hull. She not only joined the LPGA Tour but also competed in the Solheim Cup. Those experiences, both on and off the course, have made Hall a more seasoned player in her return to the Women’s British Open.
“A lot has happened in a year, but I’m sure happy where I am now and I look forward to tomorrow.