Published September 13, 2012
| Sports Network
Hoylake, England – So Yeon Ryu and Haeji Kang battled the elements on Thursday to share the first-round lead of the Women's British Open.
The South Korean pair shot matching 2-under 70s Thursday at a windy, difficult Royal Liverpool, the site of the season's final major championship.
Jiyai Shin, the 2008 Women's British champion, survived a 9-hole playoff Monday at the Kingsmill Championship and came out in round one with a 1-under 71.
Karrie Webb, a 7-time major winner and 2002 winner of this championship at Turnberry, also had a 71 on Thursday.
The pair is knotted in third place with Ai Miyazato, 16-year-old English amateur Charley Hull, Vicky Hurst, Katie Futcher, Mika Miyazato, Stacey Keating and Lydia Hall.
Two-time defending champion Yani Tseng opened with an even-par 72 and is part of a large group tied for 12th place.
Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Evian Masters winner Inbee Park, Morgan Pressel and Lydia Ko, the 15-year-old amateur who became the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history a few weeks ago when she won the Canadian Women's Open, are part of a large group tied with Tseng.
The winds blew on Thursday, although conditions were much better than earlier in the week.
"Actually Tuesday and Wednesday was so bad, so today feels like a really great weather," acknowledged Ryu. "But you know, in Korea it can be a really strong wind."
Ryu, who won the 2011 U.S. Women's Open and this year's Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, birdied the second hole Thursday, but immediately dropped a shot with a bogey at the third.
She parred out on the front nine and picked up two birdies at 10 and 13. Ryu was tied for the lead, but bogeyed the par-4 14th. Ryu closed with a birdie at 16, a bogey at 17, and a birdie at the last.
That was enough to give her a piece of the first-round lead.
"This is my first time playing the British Open and this is my first time visiting England, so everything is a first experience for me," said Ryu, who won the Hanwha Finance Classic on the Korean LPGA last week.
Ryu accepted the reality of how difficult Thursday's conditions were, but was philosophical.
Kang didn't get off to the kind of start one expects from a leader, unless of course that leader played Royal Liverpool on Thursday.
She bogeyed the first hole, but got back near the top of the leaderboard thanks to back-to-back birdies at six and seven. Kang's stay near the top of the leaderboard was brief when she double-bogeyed the eighth, but she got a stroke back with a birdie at No. 9.
Kang was even and she reached 3-under par with birdies at 11, 15 and 16. She was alone in the lead, but a bogey at the 17th cost her sole possession of first.
"I started with a bogey, but I managed myself out there, to stay calm," said Kang, who is winless on the LPGA Tour. "Especially in this kind of major, you have to be very patient. My iron shots were just inside 20 feet all the time, so I could just putt it out."
NOTES: Paula Creamer, who lost the marathon playoff at Kingsmill, had a 1-over 73 on Thursday...Reigning U.S. Women's Open winner Na Yeon Choi shot a 1-over 73, Sun Young Yoo, who won the year's first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, shot a 2-over 74, and LPGA Champion Shanshan Feng struggled to a 5-over 77...Michelle Wie posted a 3-over 75.