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Wie leads Women's Open as NI's Mehaffey has solid start

 

By Phil Casey

Michelle Wie overcame a shaky start to surge to the top of the leaderboard on day one of the Ricoh Women's British Open at Kingsbarns. One over par after two holes after thinning a wedge shot on the par-five second, Wie responded in brilliant style with nine birdies to set a course record of 64 and finish eight under par.

That gave the 27-year-old a one-shot lead over Korea's IK Kim, with American Lindy Duncan a shot further back and England's Mel Reid and Jodi Ewart Shadoff part of a five-strong group on five under.

"I felt like I struggled in the last couple of British Opens and made it a point to come over early," said Wie, who is seeking a first victory since the 2014 US Open.

"I felt the Scottish Open (where she was 19th) was a great way to get into links golf. It's a different way of playing so it was good to hit a couple of shots I haven't hit before but I love it, it's so much fun."

Wie, who was forced to pull out of last month's US Open with a neck injury, added: "It makes it a little tougher with the hard lies, it jars it a little bit, but I felt great."

Reid also took advantage of ideal early conditions to card seven birdies and two bogeys, with play suspended twice in the afternoon due to heavy rain and the threat of lightning.

"I'm delighted," Reid said. "You're not going to get it much tamer than that at Kingsbarns.

"We were playing with a one or two-club wind max and it's very important to take advantage of your early tee time so I was very happy to do that.

"It's my first season in America and I think I've missed five or six cuts by a shot - the difference from that to contending is very, very small out there.

"There's been a few times when we've had the odd bounce that hasn't gone for us and it's been extremely frustrating, but I had a good chat with my coach Kevin Craggs last week and I want to spend a bit more time with him.

"I said to him, 'can you come out with me for the rest of the year please?' because I get good energy from him, he's really good with me. We've worked together a lot the last few days and it's paid off."

Irish woman Leona Maguire, the World No.1 amateur, performed admirably as the Duke University student filed an opening 69, three under par, to lie five shots off the lead.

Maguire crafted a round of five birdies and two bogeys.

Northern Ireland's Olivia Mehaffey, No.10 in the rankings and the only other Irish player in the field, shot a level-par 72.

Charley Hull and Dame Laura Davies both reached six under par before late dropped shots meant they had to settle for matching rounds of 68, the 53-year-old Davies having come through a play-off in qualifying on Monday to secure a 37th straight appearance in the event.

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