The rains went away, the sun came out and Shoal Creek said hello Thursday to the first round of the 2018 Women’s U.S. Open.
On a day when only six players were able to break 70, Michelle Wie found her form and opened with a three-under par 69 that put her just two shots off the first round lead.
As advertised, the USGA declared the field would play the ball down, no lift-clean-and-place. In all its years, the USGA has always had its fields play the ball as it lies and Thursday was no exception despite the early week protests by players that included outspoken Cristie Kerr.
The goal of the USGA this week is to identify the best player and one of the best on the LPGA Tour has a piece of the lead and that would be Ariya Jutanugarn. Jutanugarn, who doesn’t carry a driver in her bag, played well enough to pick up five birdies, an eagle and two bogeys for a five-under par 67.
Sara Jane Smith and Jeongeun Lee, joined her at the top of the leaderboard.
Then came Wie along with Danielle Kang and the surprise of the day — Swedish amateur Linn Grant. Wie, the 2014 winner of this championship, had four birdies and one bogey for her day’s work.
There were plenty of big names to be found within striking distance including Inbee Park (70), Lexi Thompson (71) and Lydia Ko (71).
Defending champion Sung Hyun Park will have a tough time repeating after opening with 76 and Pernilla Lindberg, winner of the season’s first major, stumbled as well with 76.