Ariya Jutanugarn continued her excellent form this year as she claimed a share of the first-round lead at the US Women’s Open at Shoal Creek.
US Women’s Open
Jutanugarn is tied at the top with Sarah Jane Smith and Jeongeun Lee after all three fired five-under 67s, while fan-favourite Michelle Wie made a positive start with a 69 and Mel Reid led the British challenge on two under, although she took the gloss off a good day with bogeys at the final two holes.
Former Women’s British Open champion Jutanugarn has already posted nine top-10 finishes this season, including a win at the Kingsmill Championship in mid-May, and she currently leads the Race to CME Globe standings from her elder sister Moriya.
But while Moriya struggled to a four-over 76, her younger sibling put herself in position to contend for a second major after carding five birdies and an eagle on day one, dropping just two shots on a course dampened by heavy rain in recent weeks.
Australian Smith was level par at the turn before following an eagle at the 11th with three birdies in five holes to storm home in 31, while Lee kept a bogey off her five-birdie card.
The leading trio have a two-stroke advantage over Swedish amateur Linn Grant, Danielle Kang and 2014 champion Wie, who made four birdies against a lone bogey.
Reid got to three under after eight holes before losing momentum with bogeys at nine and 10, but the English ace bounced back with three birdies in five holes from the 12th to haul herself within one of the lead.
But the 30-year-old finished on a sour note with bogeys at 17 and 18 which dropped her into a share of eighth place with her Solheim Cup team-mates Madalene Sagstrom and Emily Pedersen as well as world No 1 Inbee Park.
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Former world No 1 Lydia Ko mixed three birdies with a pair of bogeys in a steady 71, a score matched by world No 3 Lexi Thompson, while the English trio of Georgia Hall, Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Sophie Walker returned creditable 72s.
But it was a tough day for Charley Hull, who mixed two birdies with four bogeys in an erratic 74 which left her outside the top 50 overnight.