Fri, Feb 17, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Kirk leads, Taiwan’s Min Lee second

AP, ADELAIDE, Australia

New Zealand’s Lydia Ko lines up a putt during the first round of the Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide yesterday.

Photo: EPA

Playing for the fourth consecutive week, Katherine Kirk was not showing any signs of fatigue after shooting an eight-under 65 at Royal Adelaide to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Women’s Australian Open yesterday.

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

“There are low numbers to be had out there,” Kirk said. “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 US, South Korean Chella Choi and Taiwan’s Min Lee, 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, shot a 70 along with Taiwan’s Chien Pei-yun, while world No. 1 Lydia Ko carded a 71.

World No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, a five-time winner last season, shot a 72, while Yani Tseng and Lin Tze-han of Taiwan carded even-par 73s.

Defending champion Haru Nomura of Japan had a 75 in tougher afternoon conditions when the wind increased.

“Four birdies, no bogeys, I’m pretty happy and hopefully will shoot another similar round tomorrow,” said Henderson, 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.”

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,” Ko said. “It was good to see a putt drop on the final hole and hopefully that will give me good momentum going into tomorrow.”

Steen was in the first group out and took advantage of it during her round.

“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.”

Additional reporting by staff writer

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