Both Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire will need to hit the ground running today if they’re to have any chance of featuring over the weekend at the US Women’s Open in steaming hot Charleston.
Temperatures reached the mid-thirties celsius as players battled through the sticky conditions to leave their own mark on day one, with the morning starters getting the better of the scoring opportunities as the course dried out in the afternoon.
Meadow was out early but despite hitting 12 of 14 fairways, the Jordanstown professional only picked up her first birdie at her 18th – the ninth in a three-over par round of 74 that leaves her two shots behind the current projected cut mark of plus-one.
18 players broke par from the morning session compared to just six in the afternoon and Maguire was amongst those in the second half of the field who felt the burn, both overhead and underfoot, as the heat ramped up in South Carolina.
The Cavan professional had recovered from going three-over through six holes to make the turn in plus one after picking up shots at 7 and 9, however three bogeys on the way home saw Maguire sign for a four-over par 75 that leaves her outside the top-100 ahead of today’s second round.
At the top, Japan’s Mamiko Higa shot the lowest round in a U.S. Women’s Open debut, a bogey-free six-under par 65 that gave her a one-shot lead over American amateur Gina Kim and Germany’s Esther Henseleit.
The 25-year-old Higa tied for the third-lowest round in U.S. Women’s Open history. Helen Alfredsson holds the record with a 63 in the opening round in 1994.
Kim, a sophomore on Leona Maguire’s former Duke’s golf team, holed out for eagle from a fairway bunker on her next-to-last hole, the eighth at the Country Club, then had a two-putt birdie to close her round of 66.
Higa said she arrived Saturday with few expectations, let alone leading the major event. “I not only golf, but I enjoy the life here,” she said through an interpreter. “And I just enjoyed 18 holes today.”
The 20-year-old Henseleit was a German youth champion who has had six top-10 finishes in seven Ladies European Tour events this season.
She finished as the first alternate in London qualifying for this event and waited fretfully for several weeks before the call came saying she was in.
“It’s a completely new experience for me to play here and the grandstands are huge and very many people around,” she said. “But I don’t feel like it’s too much for me. So I really like that.”
Irish Tee Times (Irish Time)
Leona Maguire – 12.44pm
Stephanie Meadow – 19.24pm
Full Scoring HERE
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