Lewis battles to women’s Open lead
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | June 20,2014
PINEHURST, N.C. — Stacy Lewis had at least one thing in common with U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer. She made it around Pinehurst No. 2 without a bogey Thursday in the opening round of the U.S. Women’s Open, and that put her in the lead.
That was about the only worthy comparison after one day of golf’s unique doubleheader.
Lewis managed to keep the stress at a minimum on a steamy morning in the North Carolina sandhills for a 3-under 67, giving her a one-shot lead over Michelle Wie when the opening round was halted because of storms in the area.
“It was such an easy day,” Lewis said, referring to her game more than the golf course. “I played really, really solid, other that I had to make a few par putts. But other than that, I didn’t put myself in too bad of spots and made a few birdies.”
Wie made four birdies on the back nine, and a 10-foot par save on the par-3 17th hole, for a 68.
Comparisons were inevitable for such an occasion — the first time the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open were held on the same course in back-to-back weeks. Pinehurst No. 2 was 1,064 yards shorter than it was for the first round last week.
That didn’t make it any easier.
Lewis, the No. 1 player in women’s golf, and Wie were among five players who broke par when play was suspended with 30 players still on the course. Kaymer led 15 players under par in the first round last week. The scoring average for the women was 75.73, about 2 1/2 shots higher than the opening round for the men.
Former Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu, Katherine Kirk and 18-year-old amateur Minjee Lee were at 69.
“I think we put on a great show,” Wie said. “There are a couple of red numbers out there. There are a lot of people hovering around even par. But I think it’s great. I love that we are playing on the same stage as the men. I think it’s really interesting. It makes it very exciting.”
The show belonged to Lucy Li, the 11-year-old from the Bay Area who became the youngest qualifier in U.S. Women’s Open history. She missed only one fairway and was rarely out of position, though it cost the sixth-grader dearly when she was. Li made one triple bogey and two double bogeys, three blemishes on her card that led to a 78.
“I mean, it’s 8 over,” Li said. “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.”
There were plenty of those to go around.
At least 17 players failed to break 80, including Laura Davies. She had an 82, her worst score in a Women’s Open since Cherry Hills in 2005. Perhaps more shocking was Lydia Ko, Cristie Kerr and defending champion Inbee Park, each of them at 76.
Karrie Webb and Paula Creamer were at 70. Juli Inkster, at 53 and playing in the Women’s Open for the 35th time, had a 71.
“I don’t think the course is on the edge at all,” Webb said. “I think the USGA had to be a little bit cautious. We haven’t played a tournament here with this course setup before, and it is the second week. So I think they’re probably trying to see how the course is playing, just to see where they’re at with the golf course. I think they were just sort of seeing how we handled it.”
Lewis and Wie both studied for Pinehurst No. 2 in their own way.
Lewis played a practice round at Pinehurst a few weeks ago. Instead of showing up on Sunday to watch the men in the final round, she paid close attention over the weekend how Kaymer played on his way to an eight-shot victory. Much like the German, her preferred shot is a fade.
“It was cool to see the plan I had laid out in my head. He was kind of doing the same thing,” Lewis said. “So it was nice coming into the week knowing that y plan as going to work on this golf course. I thought that somebody, like the guys, can run away with this. If you’re hitting the ball well enough, you can definitely run away with it. At the same time, you have to know par is a good number and keep grinding away.”
Wie, who now lives in south Florida, had the yardage books from U.S. Open runner-up Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley. Studying as hard as she did when she was at Stanford, she took a little from each of them and could be headed for another week in contention at a major. Wie was in the last group at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
“I did a lot of homework,” she said. “Just took the notes from both of the books. It really helped just because they played last week in similar conditions. And they’re obviously great players. I definitely learned a thing or two.”
Her putter helped. She rolled in long birdie putts at Nos. 12 and 14, made the good par save after going into a bunker on the 17th and hit her approach to 5 feet on the final hole. It was her lowest opening round in a U.S. Women’s Open. She had started with an 80 or higher four of the last six years.