Lewis Holds 1-Shot Lead Over Wie at Open

PINEHURST, N.C. – Stacy Lewis had at least one thing in common with U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer. She made it around Pinehurst No. 2 without a bogey Thursday in the opening round of the U.S. Women’s Open, and that put her in the lead.

That was about the only worthy comparison after one day of golf’s unique doubleheader.

Lewis managed to keep the stress at a minimum on a steamy morning in the North Carolina sandhills for a 3-under 67, giving her a one-shot lead over Michelle Wie when the opening round was halted because of storms in the area.

“It was such an easy day,” Lewis said, referring to her game more than the golf course. “I played really, really solid, other that I had to make a few par putts. But other than that, I didn’t put myself in too bad of spots and made a few birdies.”

Wie made four birdies on the back nine, and a 10-foot par save on the par-3 17th hole, for a 68.

Comparisons were inevitable for such an occasion – the first time the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open were held on the same course in back-to-back weeks. Pinehurst No. 2 was 1,064 yards shorter than it was for the first round last week.

That didn’t make it any easier.

Lewis, the No. 1 player in women’s golf, and Wie were among five players who broke par when play was suspended with 30 players still on the course. Kaymer led 15 players under par in the first round last week. The scoring average for the women was 75.73, about 2 1/2 shots higher than the opening round for the men.

Former Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu, Katherine Kirk and 18-year-old amateur Minjee Lee were at 69.

“I think we put on a great show,” Wie said. “There are a couple of red numbers out there. There are a lot of people hovering around even par. But I think it’s great. I love that we are playing on the same stage as the men. I think it’s really interesting. It makes it very exciting.”

The show belonged to Lucy Li, the 11-year-old from the Bay Area who became the youngest qualifier in U.S. Women’s Open history. She missed only one fairway and was rarely out of position, though it cost the sixth-grader dearly when she was. Li made one triple bogey and two double bogeys, three blemishes on her card that led to a 78.

“I mean, it’s 8 over,” Li said. “It’s not bad. But I was 7 over in three holes, so that’s 1 over in 15 holes. So yeah, I just need to get rid of the big numbers.”

There were plenty of those to go around.

At least 17 players failed to break 80, including Laura Davies. She had an 82, her worst score in a Women’s Open since Cherry Hills in 2005. Perhaps more shocking was Lydia Ko, Cristie Kerr and defending champion Inbee Park, each of them at 76.

Karrie Webb and Paula Creamer were at 70. Juli Inkster, at 53 and playing in the Women’s Open for the 35th time, had a 71.

“I don’t think the course is on the edge at all,” Webb said. “I think the USGA had to be a little bit cautious. We haven’t played a tournament here with this course setup before, and it is the second week. So I think they’re probably trying to see how the course is playing, just to see where they’re at with the golf course. I think they were just sort of seeing how we handled it.”

Lewis and Wie both studied for Pinehurst No. 2 in their own way.

Lewis played a practice round at Pinehurst a few weeks ago. Instead of showing up on Sunday to watch the men in the final round, she paid close attention over the weekend how Kaymer played on his way to an eight-shot victory. Much like the German, her preferred shot is a fade.

“It was cool to see the plan I had laid out in my head. He was kind of doing the same thing,” Lewis said. “So it was nice coming into the week knowing that y plan as going to work on this golf course. I thought that somebody, like the guys, can run away with this. If you’re hitting the ball well enough, you can definitely run away with it. At the same time, you have to know par is a good number and keep grinding away.”

Ilonen shoots record 64 to lead Irish Open

CORK, Ireland (AP) – Mikko Ilonen of Finland carded a course-record 7-under-par 64 while crowd favorite Rory McIlroy finished 10 shots behind in the first round of the Irish Open on Thursday.

Ilonen birdied five of his closing seven holes in superb scoring conditions to end the day with a two-shot lead on the Fota Island course.

Ilonen had just 26 putts on the occasion of his 300th European Tour event. It added up to a record on a course made over since the last Irish Open at Fota Island in 2002.

The Finn, a three-time winner on tour, wasn’t surprised at the fifth course record in his career.

“I lost out in a playoff to Sergio (Garcia) in the Qatar Masters this year, and recently in the Nordea Masters I felt my game was good despite finishing 32nd, which is still a mystery how I finished 32nd that week as I was hitting my best shots of the week there,” Ilonen said. “Maybe the good golf is there but then we still have a long way to go.”

Tied for second on 5 under were Germany’s Marcel Siem and the Swedish pair of Robert Karlsson and Magnus Carlsson.

McIlroy hit just eight of the 14 fairways and took 30 putts in a round of 3-over 74. He’s in a lowly share of 125th place in the 156-player field.

“I’ve still got a little bit of jet lag, for sure, coming from the U.S. Open,” he said. “I wasn’t able to do much the Monday, Tuesday, because the clubs didn’t arrive until yesterday, as well, so that was a little bit frustrating more than anything else.

“But I did a really good practice session on the range last night after the pro-am, and was feeling good going out this morning. However, I just couldn’t really put it together as I was very sloppy with the scoring clubs, wedges, the short game, the putting. All that was just a little off.

Steele takes the lead at Travelers with a 62

CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) – Brendan Steele shot an 8-under 62 on Thursday morning and it held up for a one-shot lead after the first round of the Travelers Championship.

The 31-year-old Californian started his round with an eagle, holing a 129-yard wedge shot in the rain. He went on to birdie six of the next 12 holes at TPC River Highlands, but closed the bogey-free round with five straight pars.

He finished two shots off the course record of 60 set by Patrick Cantlay in 2011 as an amateur.

Bud Cauley and Ryan Moore shot 63, and Chad Campbell, Joe Durant, Scott Langley, Eric Axley and Jeff Maggert followed at 64.