KOHLER, Wis. — Americans Cristie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome and Lizette Salas shot 3-under-par 69 on Thursday to share the first-round lead in the U.S. Women’s Open.
Kerr is a 14-time winner on the LPGA tour and the 2007 Open winner. But she was winless in 2011 after winning at least one tournament in each of the previous seven years.
Kerr, who birdied three of her first seven holes and made it through the day without a bogey, feels a different level of energy at the Open.
“This is where I want to perform,” she said. “This is the stage I want to perform on.”
The long-hitting Lincicome has five career LPGA tour wins, including a major win in the 209 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Going into this week, breaking par didn’t seem possible at Blackwolf Run.
“Obviously today shooting 3-under I have to kind of rethink my strategy, and obviously under par is very doable,” Lincicome said. “If you can keep it in the fairway, hit it in the right spot on the green and I made a couple long putts today which was nice.”
Salas is the daughter of Mexican immigrants from Azusa, Calif., a city with a history of gang issues outside Los Angeles. With help from her family, she used golf to earn a scholarship to Southern California – and now, a spot on the LPGA Tour and a share of the Open lead.
With her family on hand to cheer her on this week, Salas sees her play as a tribute to her parents.
“My dad still works long hours out on the golf course, my mom also,” Salas said. “So this is just my way of repaying them for all their sacrifice and all their work they’ve done for me.”
Salas began with a birdie on the 348-yard, par-4 first hole, with a 9-iron approach that left her with a 7-foot putt.
It was one of her four birdies on the day. Her only bogey came on the 375-yard, par-4 11th.
Third-ranked Ai Miyazato, the Japanese star coming off a victory Sunday in the LPGA Tour event in Arkansas, is a stroke back along with 17-year-old Lexi Thompson, Jennie Lee and Beatriz Recari.
Seven players – including No. 5 Na Yeon Choi and No. 6 Suzann Pettersen – shot 71 in the nearly 100-degree heat and high humidity.
Defending champion So Yeon Ryu finished with 74. Se Ri Pak, who won the Open at Blackwolf Run in 1998, shot 72.
Top-ranked Yani Tseng shot 74. She would become the youngest player to complete a career Grand Slam with a victory this weekend.
Michelle Wie also opened with 74, and second-ranked Stacy Lewis shot 77.
Cheyenne Woods, Tiger Woods’ niece, had 75.
EUROPEAN TOUR: In Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines, France Christian Nilsson shot 6-under-par 65 to lead by a stroke after the first round of the French Open.
Nilsson made seven birdies and only one bogey on Le National.
Gary Boyd and Matteo Manassero shot bogey-free 66s to share second place with Wales Open winner Thongchai Jaidee.
Many favorites struggled on a tough golf course where 11 holes are surrounded by water. Lee Westwood recovered from a poor start to shoot 70.
Former Augusta State golfer Scott Jamieson had 71. Jamie Elson, another former Jaguar, opened with 78.