Japan’s Hinako Shibuno rekindled her love for the AIG Women’s Open after claiming the first round lead at Muirfield with an opening 65..
On an historic day for women’s golf as the East Lothian venue staged the championship for the first time, the 2019 champion shone on the famous links. Shibuno, known as the ‘Smiling Cinderella’ after picking up the nickname following her triumph at Woburn three years ago, opened with an impressive six-under-par 65 to set the early pace.
With the morning starters enjoying warm and breezy conditions – the wind gusted stronger for the afternoon players – Shibuno birdied the first three holes. In total, the 23-year-old mixed eight birdies with only two bogeys to earn a one-shot advantage over American Jessica Korda.
While missing some lost luggage this week, Korda kept her composure to post an excellent 66 highlighted by an eagle at the par-5 17th. Two players sit at four-under-par, including newly-turned professional Louise Duncan who rolled back the clock to her exploits at Carnoustie last year when she posted a top-ten finish to win the Smyth Salver as the leading amateur. In the first group out at 6.30am – together with fellow Scot Catriona Matthew who struck the opening tee shot – Duncan was the early leader after two birdies in her first five holes. The 22-year-old thrilled the home crowds once more, also making an eagle on the 17th as she signed for a 67.
Mexico’s Gaby Lopez joined Duncan on four-under later in the day, helped by three birdies in five holes from the 10th. A five-strong group are well-placed at three-under-par, featuring Swede Maja Stark, In Gee Chun from Korea, France’s Celine Boutier, Australian Minjee Lee and England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff.
Past Open winners Inbee Park and Georgia Hall posted rounds of 69 and 70 respectively, while defending champion Anna Nordqvist finished on three-over-par after a 74.
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