SA pair slow off the mark at US Women’s Open

Ashleigh SimonSAN MARTIN, California, USA (8 July 2016) – South Africa’s Ashleigh Simon opened with a two-over-par 74, but Lee-Anne Pace had a much tougher time in the blustery afternoon conditions and carded an uninspiring first round 78 at the US Women’s Open in California on Thursday.

Pace was in good company though, as none of the players in the marquee group that featured three of the top four players in the world were among the 14 players that broke par at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin in the afternoon.

World number one Lydia Ko birdied her final hole for a 73, Lexi Thompson matched Simon’s 74 and Brooke Henderson shot 76.

The top trio and the South African pair will need to do plenty of work to catch leader Mirim Lee.

The South Korean took advantage of benign morning conditions and birdied five of her last seven holes to post an eight-under-par round of 64.

When Lee walked off the course following her record-tying round and a three shot lead, she described her day with words usually not heard when talking about the U.S. Women's Open.

"So today's round was easy day — easy round, yeah," Lee said.

She sure made it look that way when she reeled in 10 birdies on her way to becoming only the fifth golfer to shoot a round of eight under. She was the first to shoot that much below par since Lorie Kane and Becky Iverson did it in the second round in 1999 at Old Waverly in Mississippi.

The lowest total score in a round in U.S. Open history is a 63 by Helen Alfredsson in 1994 at the par-71 Indianwood in Michigan.

Lee finished three strokes clear of 2007 champion Christie Kerr from the United States, Australia’s Minjee Lee and fellow Korean Amy Yang.

Even Ko was impressed by the South Korean’s performance.

"I don't know what course she played, maybe the ladies tees, maybe a different course," Ko said. "But she played fantastic. We were checking the leaderboard, she made two bogeys and still shot 8-under. It's very impressive. She must have hit a lot of fairways and made good putts. I think obviously that's the key."

Simon dropped shots at 10, 14 and seven and her lone birdie came on her back nine at the par five third. Pace offset four birdies on the outward loop with a pair of birdies at 15 and 18, but slipped deeper into blue numbers with bogeys at two, six, eight and nine.

PHOTO – Ashleigh Simon; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

Follow the live scoring at http://www.usga.org/championships/2016/u-s--women-s-open/scoring.html

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