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Ko off the pace in US Women's Open

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 8/07/2016
Lydia Ko watches a drive at the US Open. © AP Photo/Eric Risberg Lydia Ko watches a drive at the US Open.

New Zealander Lydia Ko sits down the leaderboard after an up-and-down opening round at the US Women's Open in California.

The world's top golfer shot a one-over 73 at CordeValle in San Martin, mixing three birdies and four bogeys. She will head into day two in a tie for 52nd, nine shots behind the leader, South Korean Mirim Lee, who fired an eight-under 64. Ko, 19, is chasing her second major title of the season and the third of her career.

Playing the back nine first, she opened her account with two pars before wayward tee shots led to back-to-back bogeys. She rediscovered her radar to shoot birdies on her fifth and sixth holes, but gave up her third stroke on the 10th to slip to one-over, before getting back to even par on the 12th.

There was one more dropped shot on the 16th to leave Ko with plenty of work to do in an event in which she has failed to finish in the top-10 in four previous attempts. Playing partner and world No.2 Brooke Henderson - who pipped Ko in a play-off at the year's second major, the Women's PGA Championship, in June - also struggled to find top form.

The 18-year-old Canadian carded a four-over 76 that left her in a tied for 107th. Lee, the world No.32, holds a three-shot lead over fellow South Korean and 2015 runner-up Amy Yang, 2007 champion Cristie Kerr of the United States and Australian Minjee Lee.

She began with a dropped shot at her first hole, but bounced back to pick up 10 birdies on the way to compiling a score that matched the second best at the US Women's Open. "Everything was good, like driver is good and then irons were good," she said after covering her back nine in a five-under 31. "The course is perfect now."

A second New Zealander in the field had a round to forget in her maiden major appearance. Liv Cheng carded a nine-over 81, featuring three double-bogeys, to share 147th place in the 156-strong field. US-based world No.437 Cheng qualified through an event in Texas in May.

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