Yuka Saso’s on-and-off love affair with links-type golf courses continued as she struggled with four-over-par 75 at the start of the AIG Women’s Open at the Muerfield in East Lothian, Scotland Thursday.
The 21-year-old Filipino-Japanese sits on joint 86th, two shots outside the projected cut and needs to come up with a good round to make the weekend.
Saso closed with a stirring 10-birdie, six-under par 66 in the Women’s Scottish Open last week, an encouraging result going into the second major in three weeks.
But after a birdie on the first of three-par-5 holes on 5, Saso bogeyed six of the next nine holes. She stopped the bleeding on the par-3 16th before finishing with back-to-back pars.
Saso hit only six of 14 fairways off a 252-yard average tee shot.
Although she missed only four greens, Saso needed 37 putts to complete her round, eight shots worse than her tour average.
She ranks 26th in the tour in putting.
Allisen Corpuz, an American with Filipino lineage, also shot a 75.
Shibuno takes control
Japanese Hinako Shibuno had eight birdies against two bogey to seize the first-round lead with 65, one shot ahead of American Jessica Korda.
Japan’s Hinako Shibuno took the lead at the Women’s British Open with an opening six under par 65 at Muirfield on Thursday as US star Jessica Korda stayed in touch despite having to play in borrowed clothes.
Three years ago, Shibuno won the major at the parkland Woburn course — she actually arrived presuming it would be a links course — but she admitted it was a completely different test over Scotland’s famous Open venue.
The 23-year-old made the perfect start with birdies at the first three holes and she went on to make eight altogether to offset two bogeys.
She led by one from Korda and by two from Mexico’s Gaby Lopez and local favorite, Louise Duncan, who finished in the top ten as an amateur at Carnoustie a year ago.
“I haven’t played well for a long time,” said Shibuno, although she did finish fourth in the first major of the year at the Chevron Championship in California.
“I missed the cut at the Scottish Open last week, but I really enjoyed today. It was very windy, but good fun. It’s nice to play well at such a famous venue.”
Korda has not had much fun off the course in Scotland.
The American’s suitcase is still missing on a flight from Zurich to Edinburgh and she has had to borrow clothes from other players, including younger sister, Nelly.
On the course she admitted it “was real fun, but really stressful. It’s always like this when we come to Scotland.
“I was not looking at any scoreboards because you have to concentrate so much on the golf course with all the tricky cross winds.”
“It was nice at the end to look up at the leaderboard. But you have to stay zoned in at all times.”
Missing hand warmers
She added: “It has been frustrating being without my case. In addition to my gear, I’m missing the heat warmer for my lower back and also my hand warmers.”
Korda, who finished four ahead of sister Nelly, highlighted the round with a 25 foot putt for eagle at the long 17th.
Duncan, who just turned professional last month, also made three at the hole from inside five feet.
The 22-year-old made her debut in the paid ranks at the Scottish Open last week, but comfortably missed the cut. A round of four birdies and an eagle was the perfect response.
She played in the opening group with fellow-Scot Catriona Matthew, the 2009 champion, as one of her partners.
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