|So Yeon Ryu from South Korea
South Korean duo So Yeon Ryu and Haeji Kang shot two under par 70s to share the first round lead at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Liverpool.
They shared the highest 18-hole score to lead the championship since it became a Major in 2001 and although conditions were relatively benign compared with earlier in the week, players generally struggled to hit the narrow fairways and escape the thick and punishing rough in a tricky breeze.
The 21-year-old Kang set the pace in the morning before being joined by her compatriot Ryu, the 2011 US Women’s Open champion, late in the afternoon.
Kang led early despite a double bogey and two bogeys courtesy of six birdies, including four in six holes around the turn.
She said: “I started with a bogey but I managed myself out there, to stay calm. Especially in this kind of major, you have to be very patient. My iron shots were just inside 20 feet all the time.”
Ryu, winner of the 2012 Jamie Farr Toledo Classic on the LPGA and the Hanwha Finance Classic on the Korean LPGA last week, picked up five birdies and three bogeys to join Kang.
This is the 22-year-old’s first time playing in the Ricoh Women’s British Open and she has been practising playing low shots with her coach, Ian Triggs.
“This is my first time playing the British Open and this is my first time visiting England, so everything is a first experience for me,” said Ryu, who added that the conditions reminded her of windy Jeju Island in Korea.
“Actually Tuesday and Wednesday was so bad, so today feels like a really great weather. But you know, in Korea it can be a really strong wind.”
Kang and Ryu closed a stroke ahead nine other players on one under.
Of those, English amateur Charley Hull, aged 16, played in the morning along with Australian pair Karrie Webb and Stacey Keating, Lydia Hall of Wales, South Korean Jiyai Shin and Japanese player Ai Miyazato.
Vicky Hurst and Katie Futcher of the United States and Mika Miyazato played in the afternoon, when winds were not as strong as anticipated.
World number one and defending champion Yani Tseng is part of a large group on level par 72 along with the 15-year-old New Zealander Lydia Ko – the world’s top amateur.
Despite all the talk around Ko earlier in the week, fellow teenager Hull eclipsed the youngster with her sub-par round and is clearly eying the title.
The previous best finish by an amateur in this championship since it became a major in 2001 was by Michelle Wie who tied for third at Royal Birkdale in 2005 and the last amateur to win a major championship was Catherine Lacoste at the 1967 US Women’s Open.
When it was put to Hull that she seemed relaxed about her position on the leader board, she said: “I just pretend I'm out there playing with my mates. I know it's like a major but that's how I think of it.”
Catriona Matthew - the last British winner of the tournament at Royal Lytham in 2009 - shot 76 along with the 2004 champion Karen Stupples while fellow Britons Carly Booth and Melissa Reid both had 77s. Laura Davies, the 1986 title holder, shot 80 to lie in a share of 125th position and will have work to do to make the 36-hole cut to the leading 65 players and ties on Friday evening.
Scores at the end of round 1:
70 - Haeji Kang (KOR) , So Yeon Ryu (KOR)
71 - Vicky Hurst (USA) , Charley Hull (ENG) , Stacey Keating (AUS) , Katie Futcher (USA) , Lydia Hall (WAL) , Jiyai Shin (KOR) , Karrie Webb (AUS) , Mika Miyazato (JPN) , Ai Miyazato (JPN)
72 - Hee-Won Han (KOR) , Amy Hung (TPE) , Yuki Ichinose (JPN) , Chella Choi (KOR) , Trish Johnson (ENG) , Katherine Hull (AUS) , Lydia Ko (NZL) , Morgan Pressel (USA) , Yani Tseng (TPE) , Beatriz Recari (ESP) , Inbee Park (KOR) , Holly Clyburn (ENG) , Angela Stanford (USA) , Cristie Kerr (USA) , Carin Koch (SWE) , Hee-Kyung Seo (KOR) , Becky Morgan (WAL)
73 - Dewi Claire Schreefel (NLD) , Cindy Lacrosse (USA) , Paula Creamer (USA) , Amy Yang (KOR) , Nicole Castrale (USA) , Alexandra Peters (ENG) , Maiko Wakabayashi (JPN) , Christine Song (USA) , Brittany Lincicome (USA) , Candie Kung (TPE) , Na Yeon Choi (KOR) , Linda Wessberg (SWE) , Natalie Gulbis (USA)
74 - Mina Harigae (USA) , Belen Mozo (ESP) , Pernilla Lindberg (SWE) , Sarah-Jane Smith (AUS) , Nikki Garrett (AUS) , Julieta Granada (PAR) , Jane Park (USA) , Jacqui Concolino (USA) , Pornanong Phatlum (THA) , Kaori Ohe (JPN) , Stacy Lewis (USA) , Lexi Thompson (USA) , Sun Young Yoo (KOR)
75 - Emily Taylor (ENG) , Sophie Giquel-bettan (FRA) , Leona Maguire (IRL) , Bronte Law (ENG) , Erina Hara (JPN) , Caroline Hedwall (SWE) , Michelle Wie (USA) , Anna Nordqvist (SWE) , Diana Luna (ITA) , Marianne Skarpnord (NOR) , In Kyung Kim (KOR) , Jenny Shin (KOR) , Eun Hee Ji (KOR) , Sydnee Michaels (USA) , Louise Larsson (SWE) , Karine Icher (FRA) , Veronica Felibert (VEN) , Kris Tamulis (USA) , Maria Hjorth (SWE)
76 - Lindsey Wright (AUS) , Caroline Masson (DEU) , Valentine Derrey (FRA) , Megumi Kido (JPN) , Giulia Sergas (ITA) , Christel Boeljon (NLD) , Sophie Sandolo (ITA) , Il Hee Lee (KOR) , Jin Young Pak (KOR) , Carlota Ciganda (ESP) , Suzann Pettersen (NOR) , Stephanie Na (AUS) , Mariajo Uribe (COL) , Stacy Lee Bregman (ZAF) , Azahara Munoz (ESP) , Danielle Montgomery (ENG) , Amanda Blumenherst (USA) , Karen Stupples (ENG) , Lee-Anne Pace (ZAF) , Rebecca Hudson (ENG) , Catriona Matthew (SCO)
77 - Mindy Kim (KOR) , Joanna Klatten (FRA) , Florentyna Parker (ENG) , Alison Walshe (USA) , Rebecca Codd (IRL) , Samantha Richdale (CAN) , Meredith Duncan (USA) , Karen Lunn (AUS) , Shanshan Feng (CHN) , Anja Monke (DEU) , Melissa Reid (ENG) , Kristy Mcpherson (USA) , Meena Lee (KOR) , Mo Martin (USA) , Tandi Cuningham (ZAF) , Carly Booth (SCO) , Gerina Piller (USA)
78 - Karin Sjodin (SWE) , Ursula Wikstrom (FIN) , Hee Young Park (KOR) , Amy Boulden (WAL) , Lorie Kane (CAN) , Beth Allen (USA) , Felicity Johnson (ENG)
79 - Gwladys Nocera (FRA) , Danielle Kang (USA) , Jodi Ewart (ENG) , Rachel Bailey (AUS) , Juli Inkster (USA) , Mi Jung Hur (KOR)
80 - Jing Yan (CHN) , Line Vedel (DNK) , Sophie Gustafson (SWE) , Momoko Ueda (JPN) , Rebecca Artis (AUS) , Jennie Lee (USA) , Laura Davies (ENG)
81 - Sandra Gal (DEU) , Jennifer Rosales (PHL) , Kathlyn Ekey (USA) , Jennifer Song (USA)
82 - Miriam Nagl (DEU) , Brittany Lang (USA) , Tania Elosegui (ESP) , Charlotte Thompson (ENG) , Jessica Korda (USA) , Aiko Ueno (JPN)
83 - Jimin Kang (KOR) , Ryann O Toole (USA)
87 - Anne-Lise Caudal (FRA)