Hen­der­son four back af­ter first round

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Play­ing for the fourth con­sec­u­tive week, Katherine Kirk wasn’t show­ing any signs of fa­tigue in shoot­ing an 8-un­der 65 at Royal Ade­laide to take a two-stroke lead af­ter the first round of the Women’s Aus­tralian Open on Thurs­day.

The Aus­tralian player birdied four of the first five holes on the front nine and three of four in the mid­dle of the back nine at Royal Ade­laide.

“There are low num­bers to be had out there,” Kirk said af­ter her morn­ing round. “A lot of birdie op­por­tu­ni­ties, and I was just for­tu­nate I got off to a good start and kept the mo­men­tum go­ing.”

Tied for se­cond with 67s were Marissa Steen and Jane Park of the United States, South Korean Chella Choi and Min Lee of Tai­wan, who was the only af­ter­noon golfer to make any in­roads on the leader­board.

Canada’s Brooke Hen­der­son was four strokes be­hind af­ter card­ing 69. Michelle Wie, us­ing a new putting grip and stance over the ball on the green, shot 70 and No. 1-ranked Ly­dia Ko had a 71.

“Four birdies, no bo­geys, I’m pretty happy and hope­fully will shoot an­other sim­i­lar round to­mor­row,” said Hen­der­son, from Smiths Falls, who played with Ko. “The crowds were awe­some. I hardly ever see that many peo­ple on the Thurs­day round, es­pe­cially when we tee off (early) in the morn­ing.”

Hamil­ton’s Alena Sharp and Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sher­brooke, Que., were tied at 2-un­der 71. Cal­gary’s Jen­nifer Ha was 2-over 75.

No. 2-ranked Ariya Ju­tanu­garn of Thai­land, the LPGA’s player of the year and a five-time win­ner in 2016, shot 72 and de­fend­ing cham­pion Haru No­mura of Ja­pan had a 75, both in tougher af­ter­noon con­di­tions when the wind in­creased and the greens firmed up.

Ko was frus­trated on the greens, but ended the day on a good note when she birdied the ninth, her last. “I hit my drives good, which is re­ally im­por­tant around a course like this, but just the putts did not drop,” she said. “It was good to see a putt drop on the fi­nal hole and hope­fully that will give me good mo­men­tum go­ing into to­mor­row.”

Five-time cham­pion Kar­rie Webb had a 76. She was 3-over af­ter bo­gey­ing the first hole — her 10th — but then went dou­ble-bo­gey, bo­gey, birdie, birdie, par to com­plete her round.

“A cou­ple of late birdies at least made lunch taste bet­ter, but it wasn’t real good out there to­day,” said Webb.

Steen was in the first group out, and took ad­van­tage of it dur­ing her round which in­cluded an eagle on the third.

“The wind was low, the greens were rolling re­ally pure. I was jok­ing that I didn’t see a blade of grass out of place out there the whole day,” Steen said. “I didn’t trip once. I ei­ther hit ev­ery green or was right on the fringe where I was still able to putt, so I gave my­self a lot of chances and took ad­van­tage when I had wedges in my hands.”

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