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Australians shine at Pinehurst

(Photo: USGA)
Australian golfers have performed well on the opening day of the 2014 US Women's Open at Pinehurst with three of the seven who made the field inside the top ten towards the completion of round one.

The World Number Two Stacy Lewis has the lead after her opening round of 67 to lead by one over Michelle Wie but West Australian amateur and two time Australian Amateur Champion, Minjee Lee, and Queensland's, Katherine Kirk, are at 1 under par 69 and share 3rd position while two time winner, Queenslander Karrie Webb, is one shot further back in a share of 6th.

Play was called off at 7.55 pm through darkness with several players yet to complete round one although it is unlikely to effect the leading scores.

Lee's highlight was an eagle on the 5th after her second with a hybrid just missed the green and she putted in from off the green

Lee was pleasantly surprised at her score given she did not hit the ball well. "I had a pretty good round today, I guess, considering how I hit it. I chipped and putted pretty good. And there's always room for improvement. I'm hoping for every a little bit more improvement in every round.

"I think everyone is going to miss greens. It's playing tough. So just trying to get the ball to have a little fade on it, so it stops, it holds the greens. Yeah, just trying to get that shape into my head.

"I think because I played in the afternoon the greens were softening up a little bit. It wasn't like -- they weren't totally rolling off the greens and like bouncing everywhere. But they were still playing tough. But like some of the tees were moved forward. So a little bit shorter than how I practiced them but I think it's still playing tough."

Kirk is enjoying the fact that the tournament follows immediately on the men's version last week. "A lot of us came in last week and watched the guys, and pretty neat that we get to follow them. And, obviously, there's a bit more publicity and comparison seeing how we are doing. So I guess it's a good thing for the Tour. And certainly the USGA has done a great job so far.

"I mean, coming into an Open, you always know it's going to be tough and a grind. So, yeah, your expectations aren't very high. And, yeah, you just try to be patient on every shot out there. It's the first round, you can't get ahead of yourself.

"Even par is always a good scores in a U.S. Open. And I would have expected the course to get tougher the next three days, as well. Unless we get rain. So, yeah, I'll be happy if I'm even at the end of the week."

Webb has won seven major championships and following a great start to the year during which she won two LPGA event, the 39 year old is happy with the start she has made. "Anytime you shoot even par right off the first round, I think you put yourself in a good position. And I putted really nicely out there, and made some nice saves and made a couple of birdies, three birdies out there. So I made some nice putts. Just trying to work at how far I'm hitting it, I guess, if it's this hot tomorrow."

Webb has had great success on Melbourne's Sand Belt courses, winning four of her five Australian Opens on those layouts and sees similarities at Pinehurst to those layouts.

"I did have good feelings here. I came a couple of weeks ago ahead of -- before the men played. And I loved it as soon as I was here. It does really remind me of Sand Belt golf in Melbourne, where you don't always have a perfect lie, even in the fairway. And you have to be creative around the greens. And that's definitely a recipe to play well in Melbourne and it is here, as well.

"I don't think the course is on the edge at all. I think -- 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, there hasn't been a competitive round since Sunday, so just to see where they're at with the golf course. I think they were just sort of seeing how we handled it. And they'll make their adjustments, I think."

New South Wales' Rebecca Artis, a late entrant in the field after earning a start through her alternate position in sectional qualifying, is at 1 over with two holes to play which she will be required to complete on Friday morning US time.

Nikki Campbell and Stephanie Na have opened with four over par rounds of 74, Sarah Jane Smith was round in 76 while Stacey Keating struggled to a round of 84.

Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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