Meena Lee shot a bogey-free 65 on Thursday to take a two-shot lead over Brittany Lincicome after the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open in Carnoustie, Scotland. Lee shot a front-nine 32 with four birdies and after making the turn added birdies on No. 11, 14 and 17 to finish the day in sole possession of the lead, as the event is held at Carnoustie for the first time.
A morning full of sunshine and calm winds gave way to rain for much of the afternoon, effectively turning ‘Car-nicey’ into ‘Car-nasty’ as the heavens opened from around 11am.
Lee, 29, from South Korea, was steady from tee to green but enjoyed a little luck on the par-four 18th hole when her second shot bounced over the Barry Burn and rolled up to within 12 feet of the hole, but she uncharacteristically missed the birdie putt.
“I hit a really bad shot, but after it stepped over the bridge hopefully, but it took a really nice bounce. I got lucky,” she said. “I was my feel really good today, also my putting was good.”
Lee has won twice on the LPGA Tour, capturing titles at the 2005 BMO Financial Group Canadian Women’s Open and the 2006 Field Open in Hawaii and four times on the Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA).
Brittany Lincicome, a three-time winner on the LPGA Tour, found very different weather than what she expected.
“Of course I have three layers of pants and Under Armor and jackets anticipating snow, but this morning it was beautiful,” Lincicome said. “You could have had on shorts and a short‑sleeved shirt and been perfectly fine…It was unlike the British Open actually. It was really pretty.”
Lincicome had four birdies, two bogeys and an eagle on the par-5 14th hole in her round of 67. Her round didn’t really get going until the back nine, as she was even par after the 11th hole before going five-under in her final seven holes.
“The front nine I felt like I was hitting the ball well, driving it well, and just not getting it close enough or not ‑‑ the birdie putts just weren’t falling,” Lincicome said. “Then made the turn, and there was three holes in a row that kind of got me going.”
Angela Stanford, Amy Yang, Caroline Masson and Sophie Gustafson finished a stroke back on 68 and Masson, a second year Ladies European Tour player from Germany, said: “I didn’t make many mistakes. I always had putts for birdies so it was kind of easy for me.”
Henderson Rookie Caroline Hedwall was in the first group out at 6.30am and set the target of 69, before being joined by Momoko Ueda, Na Yeon Choi, Amy Hung, Song-Hee Kim, Lorie Kane, Paula Creamer and Mika Miyazato.
Hedwall was not pleased with her ball striking but she said: “I didn’t hit the ball that great today actually. I saved myself with good putting.”
After winning Ladies European Tour Final Qualifying School in January, she took her first LET title at the Allianz Ladies Slovak Open in May and added her second at the Finnair Masters a month later.
“I didn’t expect to win twice already on the European Tour, but I thought I was ready, and obviously I was. It was just great to get a good start,” she admitted.
Playing in the same group as Hedwall, amateur Sophia Popov from Germany, shot 70 playing in her first Women’s British Open. Defending champion and Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng fired a one-under 71 and is in a tie for 28th.
The 2009 Ricoh Women’s British Open champion, Catriona Matthew of North Berwick in Scotland, shot a first-round 70 and is tied for 15th.
The second round begins at 6.30am on Friday and after its conclusion, the leading 65 and ties will progress to the third and fourth rounds.