World ranked number one and RICOH Women’s British Open defending champion Stacy Lewis summed up the first round at the Royal Birkdale this way: “Anything under par is a good score.” When all the cards were signed and all the players in the house, six had recorded sub-par rounds and Japan’s Ayako Uehara, who was paired with Lewis and Charley Hull for the opening round, had a slim, one-stroke overnight lead. Uehara, who carded 68, edged out American Mo Martin, who shot 69, a trio who shot 70 and are sleeping with a share of the 3rd slot on the board, and a quartet that includes Lewis who shot 71. Caution: there are 54 holes of golf still to be played and the RICOH Women’s British Open is still anybody’s championship to be won, or lost.
Power Pairings Predictions
I predicted that Lexi Thompson would edge out Stephanie Meadow in their first round pairing and they would both play well ahead of Gwladys Nocera. Thompson did, indeed, lead in this group, carding even par. Nocera, however, outplayed Meadow, shooting 73 to Meadow’s 77. Let’s see if Meadow can settle down and play the best game in her bag for the 2nd round.
Thompson, who’s world ranked 5th, is on the hunt for a 2nd Major to leapfrog over Michelle Wie. She’s made a good start. She’ll start the 2nd round three strokes in front of Wie, who carded 75 today. But even though Thompson made her way around Royal Birkdale with an economical 27 putts, she’s having some trouble off the tee and she’s not hitting her long bombers.
Paired with Shiho Oyama and Suzann Pattersen, I predicted that Catriona Matthew would dominate her group during the first round. Matthew ended the first round two strokes over par, Pettersen at even par — in the mix with Thompson, Karrie Webb, Lydia Ko, American amateur Emma Talley, and Inbee Park, among others — and Oyama at +7. Pettersen surprised me. She out-putted Matthew. Let’s see if she can keep it up. It would be fun to see Pettersen playing at her 2013 Evian Championship level again. She’s a fierce competitor and a pleasure to watch.
I predicted that Paula Creamer would outplay Lydia Ko and Ai Miyazato. I missed it entirely, Ko and Miyazato will go into the 2nd round at even par and Creamer at +3. What happened? Creamer’s flat stick betrayed her. She needed an astonishing 40 putts to get around Royal Birkdale! Can the Pink Panther make up the deficit? Only if she gets her putter working on Friday.
Belen Mozo, Gerina Piller, and Australian amateur Su-Huyn Oh all struggled during the first round. I predicted that Mozo would lead this group but Piller and Oh, who both carded 76, surprised me, edging out Mozo, who carded 77.
Su_Huyn Oh certainly delivered a more impressive performance than Minjee Lee, the much-watched Aussie amateur, who will start the 2nd round of the Open with a deficit of +11.
The Stacy Lewis-Michelle Wie rivalry may go to the back burner for a while. Wie with a 78 on her first round card, is trailing Lewis by four strokes going into the second round. However, Lexi Thompson and Charley Hull, who carded 73 and will start the 2nd round at +1, both have Lewis in their sights.
Three LPGA players withdrew from the 2014 RICOH Women’s British Open today. Lizette Salas withdrew due to a back injury and was replaced by alternate Lucy Williams from England. Caroline Masson withdrew after nine holes of her first round due to illness and Cristie Kerr withdrew due to illness after she finished her round.
United States fans can follow the 2nd round of the RICOH Women’s British Open on ESPN, 9am-noon, ET and my colleagues and I at ProGolfNow will continue to provide updates and analysis of the rounds throughout the championship.