WOBURN, England: South Korean Lee Mi-rim has developed a penchant for low scoring and she continued the trend with a sizzling 10-under-par 62 in the opening round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open on Thursday.
The 25-year-old came charging out of the blocks in the fourth and penultimate women’s major of the season, birdying three of the first four holes.
Lee then produced a spectacular sequence of five straight birdies from the seventh before putting the seal on a dynamic display by picking up further strokes at the 14th and 17th.
Asked if it was the finest round of her career, she told reporters: “I would say it’s one of the best.
“All the holes I played really well… on the fairway, on the green, similar distance of putts, it was all-round good,” added Lee after tying the Women’s British Open record 62 carded by Finn Minea Blomqvist at Sunningdale in 2004.
The twice LPGA Tour winner also fired a 62 at an event in Taiwan two years ago and broke the tournament record with an 11-under 61 at Qualifying School in 2013.
Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn was in second place on Thursday after collecting seven birdies in a 65, one ahead of Shanshan Feng of China.
World number one Lydia Ko, bidding to land her third major victory after winning the ANA Inspiration in California in March and last year’s Evian Championship in France, struggled to a 74.
“My short game wasn’t that great to cover up for the missed shots and when I did hit it close the putts didn’t go in,” said the 19-year-old South Korean-born New Zealander.
“When that’s the case you’re not going to shoot a low score. Hopefully I’ll have a low one tomorrow and get back into it.”
British number one Charley Hull, playing on her home course at Woburn, featured in the same three-ball as Ko and a birdie-birdie finish helped her fire a 69.
“The first tee shot was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been on a golf course and I never usually get nervous so that was quite weird,” said Hull. “I felt like I had big expectations from people.
“It’s a pretty easy opening shot and I didn’t want to screw up because I’d look silly … but after I made a birdie I was pretty happy, a bit more comfortable.”
Brooke Henderson, the world number two who triumphed at the PGA Championship in June, returned a 71 but felt she could have done a lot better.
“I left some shots out there,” said the 18-year-old Canadian. “I gave myself tons of opportunities, I’m pretty sure I hit 17 greens in regulation.
“It would have been nice to capitalise more. I have a lot of work to do the next three days but it’s really exciting that I’ve done it before and I have a chance to do it again.”
(Editing by Ken Ferris)