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Lennarth and Pressel share first round lead at Ricoh Women’s British Open
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Camilla Lennarth of Sweden makes a par putt on the 17th hole

Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth shared the lead with Morgan Pressel of the United States after the first round at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

Lennarth, who final qualified at Kingsbarns on Monday, made a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-four 18th in fading light in front of the famous R&A clubhouse on The Old Course at St Andrews to join major champion Pressel on six-under-par 66.

This Lennarth’s first visit to the Home of Golf and the 25-year-old from Stockholm made the perfect start as she hit 18 fairways and as many greens, with six birdies, including at the first and the last.  

“This is my first time at St. Andrews and first time at the British Open,” said Lennarth.“I’m very satisfied. I hit all the fairways and all the greens and it went pretty smooth out there.

“When I made birdie on the first hole, I thought, okay, I’m at least going to make one birdie at this tournament! I’ve been very excited. Ever since I qualified on Monday I’ve been looking forward to this, since I grew up. I’m very happy that I made it here and that was the thought. No matter what happens out here, I’m just going to enjoy every moment and take it all in.”

Lennarth is ranked 35th on the LET Order of Merit after nine starts so far this season and has recorded two top five finishes, including a tie for second in South Africa and a tie for fourth in the Netherlands, where she led the tournament after the first two rounds.

“Of course I’m surprised that I’m tied for the lead but I know that I can hit good golf shots. It's just a matter of putting them all together at once, and I did today and I'm satisfied,” she said.

“Last week in London, I started to putt well again.  So I just kind of carried that on to this week. And putting well usually just kind of takes on a little pressure off the shots hitting into the green, because you feel like, okay, well, I'm rolling it well, and that makes you, you know, just kind of take your shoulders down a little bit and take a breather and you know you're going to have a shot at the hole at least.”

Co-leader Morgan Pressel

Playing under sunny skies earlier in the afternoon, the more experienced Pressel set the target at six-under.

The 25-year-old from Boca Raton in Florida is 12th on the US Solheim Cup standings and determined to make an impression before the team announcement on Sunday night.

She had a chance to go to seven-under-par on 18 but missed her birdie putt, which kept her from matching her lowest round in a major championship -- 65 which she shot in the third round of the 2010 Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale.

Pressel may be chasing her second career major title and a spot on this year’s U.S. Solheim Cup this week but all eyes were on Park on Thursday morning as she began her chase for a slice of history. Park is trying to become the first golfer – male or female—to win four professional majors in a single season.

Park’s hunt for the Grand Slam has drawn worldwide attention and in spite of the increased attention focused on her this week at St. Andrews, the 25-year-old South Korean didn’t seem to be fazed by the pressure at the start Thursday’s first round.

After teeing off at 7:03 a.m. local time in cloudy conditions with a light drizzle, Park wasted no time getting her name on the leaderboard. She birdied the first hole and then managed to take advantage of the easier part of the golf course as she shot 31 on the front nine. Known for her solid putting, Park put on a clinic with her flat stick over the first 10 holes of her round. She sank birdie putts that measured close to 40, 30, 20 and 10 feet during that stretch and once again showed why she’s considered to be one of the best putters currently in the game.

Park moved to six-under-par when she made a 5-foot birdie putt on the 10th, but gave the stroke back with a bogey on the par-4 13th. After driving the ball into the heather, Park had to slash out with her second shot and then hit her third to about 15 feet. She missed that putt for par and had to settle for bogey as she headed to the final stretch of holes.

Things proved to be more difficult for Park at the end of her round, as her driver wasn’t quite as steady. She missed a few fairways coming down the stretch, most of them to the right-hand side, and then three-putted on No. 16 and 17 as she carded a double bogey and then bogey to drop to 2-under-par. A birdie on the final hole got Inbee back to 3-under-par for the day.

American Stacy Lewis also put herself in the hunt for a second career major title on Thursday, shooting a 5-under 67 to take the early clubhouse lead. She finished the day in a tie for second with six other players including Rolex Ranking No. 3 Na Yeon Choi. Lewis managed to take advantage of the difficult finishing at St. Andrews, firing a 31 on the back nine to take advantage of the favorable scoring conditions on Thursday.

“I got more comfortable with my putter, made a couple of good putts for par,” Lewis said. “To come away, shooting 5‑under on the back nine on this golf course, I don't care if it's calm or if it's windy, it's a good score, so I'm very happy with the day.”

Just one shot further back in a group at four-under-par are Ladies European Tour members Liz Young, Catriona Matthew and Pernilla Lindberg as well as 16-year-old amateur Georgia Hall, from England.

Hall’s 68 leaves her with a slender one shot lead over World No. 1 amateur, Lydia Ko, in the race for the Smyth Salver awarded to the leading amateur who plays all four rounds.

There are a total of six amateurs in this year’s field. Further down the leaderboard Welsh Curtis Cup player, Amy Boulden, carded a fine two under par 72, France’s Celine Boutier recorded a level par 72 while Gabriella Cowley and British and English stroke play champion, Sarah-Jane Boyd, finished in 75 and 77 respectively.

 

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