Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mirim Lee ties scoring mark to lead Women's British Open

WOBURN, England — Mirim Lee shot 10-under 62 on Thursday to match the Women's British Open record and open a three-stroke lead in the first round of the major championship at tree-lined Woburn Golf Club.

Three weeks after shooting 64 in the first round of the U.S. Women's Open, the South Korean, 25, made the last of her 10 birdies on the par-3 17th.

Lee fell a stroke short of the LPGA Tour major record of 61 set by Hyo Joo Kim in the first round of the 2014 Evian Championship. Minea Blomqvist shot 62 in the third round of the 2004 Women's British Open at Sunningdale, and Lorena Ochoa had 62 in first round of the 2006 Kraft Nabisco, now known as the ANA Inspiration.

Lee also matched her official tour career low, set in the second round of the 2014 LPGA Taiwan.

"I've shot 11 under before," Lee said. "It was back in, I think, second round of LPGA Q-School, final stage. Just so happens my caddie at the time (John Kileen) was my caddie (Thursday)."

Ariya Jutanugarn was second after a bogey-free 65. "I love this course," said Jutanugarn, the long-hitting Thai player won three straight events in May.

China's Shanshan Feng had 66, and American Stacy Lewis and South Korea's Mi Hyang Lee shot 67.

Top-ranked Lydia Ko shot 74, and second-ranked Brooke Henderson had 71.

Seminole's Brittany Lincicome was among the 12 players at 3-under 69.

Lee birdied the first two holes, added a birdie on the fourth and made five straight birdies on Nos. 7-11 to reach 8 under. She also birdied the par-3 13th on the Marquess Course, a forest layout that is a big change from the seaside links that dominate the tournament rotation.

"When you normally think of (the) British Open, you think of high roughs, difficult roughs," Lee said. "But here it feels more like California, so I think that really made me feel comfortable."

In California at CordeValle in the U.S. Women's Open, she followed her 64 with rounds of 74, 76 and 73 to tie for 11th. She missed the cut in the ANA Inspiration to start the major year and tied for fourth in the Women's PGA.

"I think the difference is that now I'm trying to have fun," Lee said. "In the beginning of the year, things weren't really going well for me, so I really put a lot of work into it, and I think it's just natural that … the hard work is showing now."

The tournament is the fourth of the tour's five major championships.

Third-ranked Inbee Park, the winner last year at Turnberry, is sidelined by a lingering left thumb injury. She hopes to be ready to compete for South Korea in next month's Olympics.