NEW Zealand golf sensation Lydia Ko opened her Women’s British Open campaign in solid fashion, settling for an even-par 72 in the opening round.
The 15-year-old, ranked the world’s No 1 amateur, wanted to take advantage of the conditions and make two-under par, but was content with being two off the pace to lie 12th in the 144-strong field
Nobody broke 70 on the tough Royal Liverpool links at Hoylake.
”The goal was two-under because the weather was quite benign compared to what you’d expect, but at the end of the day even-par is completely acceptable, as you can see from the scores,” Ko’s coach and caddie, Guy Wilson, told Fairfax NZ.
”In an Open Campionship, you can’t be too unhappy with even-par. She struck it really well. The goal is too miss as many pot bunkers off the tee as possible beacuse it’s almost instant bogey so she did well in that sense, only finding one (which led to a bogey at the second).”
Ko hit five birdies and matched that with five bogeys, and had a share of the lead after 10 holes.
However four of her bogeys came on the back nine, just after her group, which included American Lexi Thompson and Japan’s Kaori Ohe, had been put on the clock for slow play.
The penalty was Ohe’s fault, having required several toilet breaks.
”We were under the pump, we were pretty much running between the shots so it was difficult to get into a rhythm,” Wilson explained.
”We had to try and catch up, and then we caught up to the group ahead of us on the sixth hole and we had to sit on our bums for 20 minutes.”
Wilson didn’t want to use it as an excuse for the bogeys, however.
”She just missed a drive on the second and missed the green a couple of times and couldn’t get up and down with some chips she would normally do.”
She patched over some of the damage with two birdies on the back nine, and was lucky to be on the course early, with those hitting in the afternoon struggling as the wind increased.
Ko’s group will have to deal with winds approaching 50 miles per hour in their second round when they tee off this afternoon.
”I think there’s going to be a lot more wind,” Wilson said. ”But it doesn’t make it play that much harder, as long as you play for it. We’ll just have longer shots in.”
Ko is playing in just her second major, and last month became the youngest winner on the top professional tour in the world, the LPGA, backing up from her victory at the US Amateur Championship two weeks earlier.
She tied for 39th and won low amateur honours at the US Open in her first major in June.