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Published September 15, 2015
Defending champion Inbee Park's first round at the U.S. Women's Open got away from her in a hurry.
Two double bogeys and four bogeys left her at 6-over 76 on Thursday.
"I think it's probably beyond disappointment," Park said. "It was just so quick and I just don't know what happened. I was just really shocked how the golf course was playing. ... I didn't feel like I played horrible, but the score is bad. So it's so easy to make a lot of big numbers here."
Park won her second Women's Open title last year at Sebonack in New York, and came to Pinehurst trying to become the first player to win it in consecutive years since Karrie Webb in 2000-01.
After one round, a bigger concern might be simply making the cut.
"I definitely need some lower numbers to put myself back into position," Park said. "But I think my plan has definitely changed. My plan will be making (fewer) bogeys tomorrow and trying to just stay out of the trouble. Not so much about the trophy now anymore, just trying to keep it into play."
Park's day started decently enough: Beginning on the back nine, she birdied her first hole before she had three bogeys in a six-hole span starting on the 13th.
Then came even more trouble.
Her first double bogey came on the par-4 third after her second shot sailed over the green and stopped in a foot mark that left her without a good shot. She closed her round with a double bogey on the par-3 ninth.
"It's so easy to make double bogeys here," Park said.
Park was coming off a win June 8 in Waterloo, Ontario, her first LPGA Tour title since her victory at Sebonack.
GOING OUT STRONG: Juli Inkster's final Women's Open got off to an up-and-down start.
Her 1-over 71 included four bogeys and three birdies.
She said she was pleased with her play, except for the shot she hit into a bunker with a rescue on the 16th.
She downplayed a suggestion that being in the mix for the title on Sunday would be a fitting final chapter for her at U.S. Women's Open.
The 53-year-old made the cut in her first Women's Open in 1978, when she was 18, and won it in 1999 and 2002. She has said this would "probably" be her last one.
"I don't think it's important. ... I'm OK with the decision," Inkster said. "I like this golf course, because I think it weeds a lot of players out. ... I don't know if anybody can catch (Stacy Lewis, who shot a 67). But I feel like I can have a good tournament."
DIFFERENT SETUP, SAME DIFFICULTY: Pinehurst No. 2 was tough on the men last week and now it's being tough on the women.
Only three of the 78 players in Thursday's morning groups broke par.
The course was set up at 6,296 yards for the first round — a little over 1,000 yards shorter than it was for the men.
The greens are the same speed as last week, though they received extra water in an effort to soften them, because the women aren't strong enough to hit the ball as high or with as much speed as the men.
Two-time Women's Open winner Karrie Webb called it "a hard course to play too aggressive."
"I think it was hard to get to some of the pins, but I think for the most part the pins were set where, if you hit good shots, you could still get it close," Webb said. "If you over cook a shot and miss it on the short side, it's not staying on the green. ... You're happy if you hit it to the center of the green pin-high and have a 20-footer most of the time."
ACED: Giulia Sergas did something none of the men could do last week: She had a hole-in-one on the 15th.
The hole played at 164 yards Thursday, with the pin placed in the back left part of the green. That hole played at 208 yards last week for the U.S. Open.
Sergas' ace was the 21st in Women's Open history.
The only hole-in-one last week belonged to Zach Johnson, who aced the ninth.
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