by Jeff Skinner
The USGA pulled a fast one on the ladies at Sebonack today as they moved up many tees and essentially shortened the course for the first day of the 68th U.S. Women’s Open. Where players had been hitting five or six irons into greens during practice rounds today they were attacking them with wedges.
Ha-Neul Kim leads the way at -6 with world number one Inbee Park just one stroke back. Park continued her hot putting today and needed only 25 putts to card her five under 67. The lack of breeze today let some players take advantage of Sebonack, but still only 36 players were able to break par.
Park seemed to make every putt out there and her playing partner, Stacy Lewis has seen this before, “She putts like that every week. I don’t know, I mean, it’s every round I play with her. She always putts like that. I think everything inside 10 feet, other than that last hole, she made everything. So that’s the way Inbee plays. She’s steady.”
Park acknowledged that the course was not set up as difficult as it will be later in the week,” I played very good today. I hit the ball very good, didn’t miss many fairways or greens. I was able to take some pins today where the USGA was a little generous on us today. A lot of tees were moved up. So instead of hitting like 5‑irons, we were hitting 9‑irons, and that was making the course much easier. I was actually able to go for some pins and give myself a lot of opportunities today. Yeah, I made a lot of putts and didn’t leave much out there.”
Unlike many players who try to play as many rounds as they can on a new course, Park elects to play just a few rounds immediately before the tournament and I asked her if that was her normal preparation for a major at a new venue,” Well I have tried coming to the course, the Women’s Open course before and I’ve only done that once before. That was my worse finish, so I just tried to come, show up for the week and have a couple of practice rounds.” That plan worked fine today.
Not everyone fared well at Sebonack today and Michelle Wie was one of those that got off to a horrid start. Wie took an eight at the tenth, her first hole of the day and struggled to an opening nine of 45. She did finish with three birdies in her last four holes and that buoyed her spirits,” Everything that could go wrong went wrong today. But I’m proud of myself for making three birdies in the last four holes or five holes. So, hopefully I can get a couple more birdies tomorrow.”