Except for a single bogey on the front nine, Yuka Saso of the Philippines had a brilliant opening round performance highlighted by an eagle as she fired a four-under par 68 in the AIG Women’s British Open Thursday (Friday in Manila) at the Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland.
Saso pitched from over 30 feet off the fringe and buried the shot on the par-5 12 for an eagle. She birdied on 14 – her third – to move at four-under for an impressive debut in the $4.5 million event.
Saso, the No. 8 golfer in the world, also birdied on 5 and 6 after a bogey on hole No. 2, which is a par 4.
The 20-year-old reigning US Women’s Open champion finished the round tied for fourth to seventh spots with amateur Louise Duncan of Scotland, Andrea Lee of the US and Georgia Hall of England.
The four golfers are a shot behind leaders Sei Young Kim of South Korea, Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom and American Nelly Korda, the world No. 1 women’s golfer and gold medal winner in the last Tokyo Olympics.
Korda, Sagstrom and Kim all had an opening round of five-under par 67.
Kim mixed her round with six birdies and a bogey, while Sagstrom with seven birdies although she committed two bogeys. Korda, on the other hand, had a total of eight birdies but bogeyed on 5, 12 and 16.
“I still feel like a little girl playing golf,” said the 23-year-old Korda.
“It has been a long couple of weeks and I have to carefully manage my time. Yesterday (Wednesday) I had to play in a Pro-am and I wasn’t hitting it all that well and wanted to get to the range. I was really, really tired.”
Saso, who finished ninth in the Tokyo Olympics after a 65 on the final round, will again join fellow major champions Lexi Thompson of the US and Brooke Henderson of Canada as they tee off at 8:09 in the morning.
Thompson is in a three-way tie for eighth to 10th places with fellow American Lizette Salas and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda all at three-under 69 in this major event in women’s golf.
Defending champion Sophia Popov of Germany is tied for 41st with 23 other golfers at even par 72. (With reports from AFP)