Pi­eters leads at Fire­stone

Calgary Sun - - SPORTS - — Postmedia wire ser­vices — Postmedia wire ser­vices

ST. AN­DREWS, Scot­land — Fin­ish­ing fast af­ter a slow start, Michelle Wie birdied her fi­nal three holes Thurs­day for an eight-un­der 64 for a one-shot lead in the Women’s Bri­tish Open.

Wie bo­geyed the par-5 sec­ond hole at Kings­barns Links, and that was the last of her mis­takes. The 27-yearold Amer­i­can shot 30 on the back nine and wound up one shot ahead of I.K. Kim of South Korea.

Lindy Dun­can was an­other shot be­hind at 66, with Lexi Thomp­son among those at 67.

Wie, show­ing no sign of the neck spasms that forced her to with­draw from last month’s U.S Women’s Open, posted nine birdies dur­ing a morn­ing round played in al­most per­fect weather on the east­ern coast of Scot­land.

Only later did tor­ren­tial down­pours and the threat of light­ning twice dis­rupt play for a to­tal of 74 min­utes.

Laura Davies was one who suf­fered from the in­ter­rup­tions. Six-un­der par through 14 holes, the 53-year old from Eng­land fin­ished in a mildly dis­ap­point­ing 68, the same score posted by Charley Hull, Bri­tain’s top player.

There were no such prob­lems for Wie. Such was the over­all seren­ity of her progress, the Hawaii na­tive even had time to take in the stun­ning vis­tas across what she re­ferred to as the “ocean,” which is ac­tu­ally the Tay Es­tu­ary.

Fol­low­ing the early dropped shot — a badly skulled lob wedge fin­ished far over the sec­ond green — she reeled off three birdies be­fore the turn. Over the back nine, it only got bet­ter with six bird-

aKrON, Ohio — rory Mcil­roy had his best friend on the bag and his best start on amer­i­can soil in 18 months. For Jor­dan spi­eth, it was more of the same with two long putts and an­other com­ment filled with bravado directed at his cad­die.

Both of them opened with a three-un­der 67 at the Bridge­stone in­vi­ta­tional, leav­ing them two shots be­hind thomas Pi­eters of Bel­gium.

Pi­eters, play­ing only for the sixth time since he chal­lenged briefly at the Masters this year, holed a 30-foot birdie putt on his fi­nal hole at Fire­stone to fin­ish a day of good scor­ing with a one-shot lead over rus­sell Knox.

adam Had­win of ab­bots­ford, B.C., is three shots back af­ter a 68 while Macken­zie Hughes of dun­das, Ont., strug­gled to a 4 over fol­low­ing a 74.

the open­ing two rounds were moved up to the morn­ing be­cause of a fore­cast of thun­der­storms in the af­ter­noon. ies in the fi­nal eight holes.

“It’s so gor­geous here,” said Wie, who has not won since claim­ing the U.S Women’s Open at Pine­hurst in 2014. “When the weather is nice, it al­most felt like I was play­ing back home in Hawaii with the views and ev­ery­thing. I feel like I got ex­tremely lucky with the con­di­tions out there.”

Still, no one else in the 144-player field took as much ad­van­tage. The lack of wind and soft­ness un­der­foot left the 6,697-yard course all but de­fence­less and al­lowed Wie to use her high-fly­ing lofted woods to great ef­fect. Six of her nine birdies re­sulted from ap­proach shots with met­als, the 9- and 11-woods that have been in her bag since June prov­ing most ef­fec­tive.

“Call­away has done a great job of ac­com­mo­dat­ing me,” Wie said. “They had to look back into their ar­chives to find me an 11-wood. I’ve never played such high-lofted woods be­fore. The 11-wood goes 180-yards, the same dis­tance as my 5-iron but is a lot eas­ier to hit than a blade. The 9-wood re­places my 4-hy­brid and goes 190 to 195 yards.”

As for Thomp­son, the bighit­ting Florid­ian re­lied less on the yardage book and more on her cad­die. Kevin McAlpine, a for­mer Scot­tish Ama­teur cham­pion, worked at Kings­barns for four sum­mers prior to tak­ing the Thomp­son bag.

“His lo­cal knowl­edge helps tremen­dously,” Thomp­son said.

Brooke Hen­der­son of Smiths Falls, Ont., opened at two-un­der 70.

So Yeon Ryu, the No. 1 player in the world, opened with a 71, along with Hamil­ton’s Alena Sharp.

AP

Michelle Wie tees off at the 16th hole dur­ing the first round of the Women’s Bri­tish Open at Kings­barns Golf Links at St. An­drews, Scot­land, yes­ter­day.

Stephan Curry didn’t em­bar­rass him­self with his four-over 74 at the Web.com’s El­lie Mae Clas­sic.

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