2014 U.S. Women’s Open: Lewis, Wie lead after first round

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network U

PINEHURST, N.C. – Stacy Lewis, the top-ranked player in the world, led the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open, finishing her first round of play with a 3-under par 67 at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club on Thursday.

With a total of five players finishing under par on the No. 2 course, the restored Donald Ross design bared its teeth enough to space out the rest of the field to wide extremes under hot conditions.

Michelle Wie (-2) sat in sole possession of second place by carding a 68 and was followed closely by three others – Katherine Kirk, So Yeon Ryu, and Minjee Lee – who all finished with 1-under par 69’s.

While many weren’t in the red numbers, 18 others were either a stroke or two further behind at even or 1-over par, so it was a tight leaderboard as would be expected for the opening round of a USGA championship.

“I’m very happy,” Lewis said of her bogey-free performance.

“It was such an easy day. I played really, really solid, other than I had to make a few par putts, I ran some putts by, got them above the hole. But other than that, I didn’t put myself in too bad of spots and made a few birdies which was nice.”

Wie’s day consisted of a more concerted effort to balance birdies and bogeys, finishing with five and three accordingly.

“I’ll take it – any round under par – I’ll take it, Wie said.

“It was a grind out there today. It will probably be a grind the next three days, but I’ll take it.”

2010 champion Paula Creamer took a little while to get started with two bogeys on her first nine, but birdied three of her first five holes on her second nine to get to 1-under par before succumbing to a bogey on her final hole at the 9th.

“I hit a lot of great shots out there,” Creamer said.

“A couple of careless, not careless, but I just didn’t hit a good iron shot. You know, I bogeyed my last hole, but it’s going to happen. I’m not going to beat myself up over it. I made some really good saves and hit some really good shots. I would say that we had to change our strategy as the day went on, just because it was getting so much firmer. It was hot today and the ball was just bouncing a little bit more than it has the last couple of days.”

Other notable performances included an 8-over par 78 finish from 11- year old Lucy Li, the youngest competitor ever to qualify and play in the tournament.

“It was a lot of fun,” Li said while licking a post-round ice cream treat in front of the media.

“I kind of struggled today, but it was great…I’m happy with how I played. I mean, it’s 8-over, it’s not bad. But I was 7-over in three holes, so that’s 1-over in 15 holes. So, yeah, I just need to get rid of the big numbers.”

To put Li’s opening-round performance in perspective, she finished better than 30 other players, a group that included two former U.S. Open champions in Birdie Kim (+9) and Laura Davies (+12).

With 30 players still remaining out on the course, five groups on each of the front and back nine, play was officially suspended at 7:55 p.m. due to inclement weather and would resume at 6:45 a.m. on Friday morning simultaneously with the beginning of second-round play.

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2014 U.S. Women’s Open Leaderboard (uswomensopen.com)