Maguire digs in as carnage ensues on day one of U.S. Women’s Open

Mark McGowan

Leona Maguire (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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The sight of the world number one and undisputed leading player in the women’s game making a septuple bogey on the par-3 12th hole sounded a warning shot for the entire field at the U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania.

By the end of day’s play, just four of the 156-woman field sat in red figures, a further 10 shot level par, and 20 ended the day in double digits over par. One of these was the world number one who, to her credit, managed to put together a level-par final nine holes after being blown out of the tournament on her third hole.

Just five shots off the pace after posting a three-over 73, Leona Maguire can be relatively satisfied with her opening salvo. Starting at the same time as Korda but on the opposite nine, Maguire bogeyed two of her opening three holes as the firm greens and course that was playing long signalled its intent early.

After getting up-and-down from 70 yards for par on the fourth, she began to settle in and she pulled a shot back on the par-3 sixth as she stitched her tee shot to four feet. Sadly, that would be her only red number on the card, and she’d move back to +2 with a bogey on 10 after finding the fairway bunker off the tee.

Only half of the field were able to find the green on the par-3 12th that had been Korda’s downfall. 52 balls found the hazard at the front of the green over the course of the day but Leona had no such problems, finding the putting surface and two-putting for par from 23 feet. Another excellent par save followed at 14 as her 32-yard bunker shot nestled close to the hole, but she couldn’t repeat the feat on 17 and slipped back to +3, before a closing par saw her reach the clubhouse on that number and end the day tied for 35th but well within touch.

Clare amateur Aine Donegan traded a bogey and a birdie over her opening five holes but found the water off the tee on the par-5 seventh, leading to a double bogey-seven and she’d follow with another bogey on eight to make the turn at +3.

Like Maguire, she also found the green on the 12th and made par, but bogeyed three of her final five holes to slip to +6 and an eventual tie for 96th. Providing the USGA don’t blink and soften the course setup on day two, a level-par round will likely be more than enough to see her make the cut and go in search of the low-amateur medal over the weekend.

Stephanie Meadow was forced to withdraw just 20 minutes before her tee time, and she was replaced by another amateur in the form of Julia Misemer, but she found the going tough and struggled to an eventual +14 tally that is still four shots ahead of the highest score shot in round one.

Korda wasn’t the only big name to struggle, and she was joined on +10 by Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson, while Rose Zhang posted +9, one behind Lexi Thompson and defending champion Alison Lee.

“I mean, not a lot of positive thoughts, honestly,” was Korda’s assessment post round. “Just honestly, I just didn’t play well today. I didn’t hit it good. I found myself in the rough a lot. Making a 10 on a par-3 will definitely not do you any good at a U.S. Open.

“I started off really poorly but played pretty well on the back nine. But overall, yeah, just a bad day in the office.”

There were no such struggles for Japan’s Yuka Saso, winner of the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open. She traded five birdies and three bogeys to sit alone at -2, with American Andrea Lee, Thailand’s Wichanee Meechai and French amateur Adela Cernousek all a shot behind on -1.

Australian Minjee Lee is among the 10 at level par, but it’s clear that this is going to be a war of attrition so anybody within ten shots of the lead will see themselves take giant strides up the leaderboard with an under par round and big numbers await anybody who’s a little off their game once again.


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