Saturday, February 24, 2018
Golf

Ha-Neul Kim leads U.S. Women's Open

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — South Korea's Ha-Neul Kim upstaged friend Inbee Park to take the first-round lead at her first U.S. Women's Open.

Kim shot a bogey-free 6-under 66 on Thursday at Sebonack to lead Park by a stroke. Park is trying to make history by winning the first three majors of the year.

"I'm enjoying myself," Kim said through a translator. "I'm just happy to be here and to be playing in this big event. I'm not really thinking about winning or results but enjoying the moment."

A member of the KLPGA Tour, Kim is a seven-time winner in South Korea. She kept giving herself short birdie putts Thursday and making them.

Lizette Salas, Caroline Hedwall, Anna Nordqvist and I.K. Kim shot 68. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome shot par 72. Tampa resident Kristy McPherson and Tampa's Cindy LaCrosse were 2 over.

Concerned about bad weather, tournament officials moved up the tees, and with the rain holding off, Park was able to play aggressively.

"I never had practiced from those tees, so I was a little bit shocked when I went to the tees," Park said.

Not that she was complaining.

She repeatedly set up short putts, and the way she has excelled in her short game lately, Park — who has won five times total this year, including her last two tournaments — was headed to a low score.

"So instead of hitting like 5-irons, we were hitting 9-irons, and that was making the course much easier," she said. "I was actually able to go for some pins and give myself a lot of opportunities (Thursday). I made a lot of putts and didn't leave much out there."

Juli Inkster, 53, shot 72 to start her record 34th U.S. Women's Open. She broke the record she shared with Marlene Hagge.

Playing in the tournament's 68th edition on a special exemption, Inkster finished her round by holing out for eagle on the par-5 18th hole.

I played well all day, and to finish at even par, I'm happy with it," said Inkster, who has won the Open twice. "I'm right there in the tournament.

"I have to come out here (today) and shoot a couple under par."

PGA: Roberto Castro ran off three straight birdies late in his round for 5-under 66 and the first-round lead at the AT&T National in Bethesda, Md. Billy Horschel, who tied for fourth in the U.S. Open two weeks ago, was in a three-way tie for second at 68. Jim Furyk, Nicolas Colsaerts and Ben Kohles were at 69.

Champions: John Huston shot 5-under 65 to take the first-round lead in the Senior Players Championship at Pittsburgh. Fred Couples, Duffy Waldorf, Fred Funk and Russ Cochran were a stroke back in the third major on the tour schedule. Tom Pernice Jr. led a group of five players at 67. The start of play was delayed nearly five hours because of heavy rain.

European: Saying he's "feeling a bit lost" in a difficult year, Rory McIlroy shot 2-over 74 in the Irish Open to fall eight stroke behind first-round leader Oscar Floren at Maynooth. McIlroy had four bogeys and two birdies in wet, overcast conditions. McIlroy hit only five of 14 fairways and took 34 putts. "At the moment, no aspects of my game are strong and I'm just feeling a bit lost at the moment," he said.

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