LPGA: Yuka Saso on top after challenging first day of U.S. Women’s Open

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Yuka Saso’s search for a second U.S. Women’s Open title got a boost when she carded a 2-under-par 68 to take the first-round lead on Thursday at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club.

The Filipino-born Japanese golfer’s only LPGA win came at the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open. She found her way back to the top of the leaderboard Thursday in a difficult opening round that saw only four scores under par.

Andrea Lee, Thailand’s Wichanee Meechai and French amateur Adela Cernousek are tied for second at 1-under 69.

Ten more golfers shot even-par 70, including past major champs Sei Young Kim of South Korea and Minjee Lee of Australia and amateurs Megan Schofill, Asterisk Talley and Catherine Park.

Saso, 22, was 3 under through 16 holes but bogeyed her last hole to come back to the pack a bit. She was self-deprecating after carding five birdies, three bogeys and 10 pars.

“I made really good putts. I think I was more lucky than playing good,” Saso said. “I think I had a few very long par putts in the first few holes, as well. I think I was just very lucky, and I was able to have fun out there with (her playing partners).”

Lee, a 25-year-old from the Los Angeles area, has been playing U.S. Women’s Opens since qualifying for her first as a 15-year-old 10 years ago. The one-time LPGA Tour winner birdied her last hole to get under par.

“I just knew it was going to be a grind out there,” Lee said. “I mean, this golf course is such a test. It’s a beast of a golf course really and par’s a really good score out here. Just tried to plot my way around the golf course as best I could and hit as many fairways and greens as possible.”

Cernousek is fresh off winning the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship individual title earlier this month for Texas A&M.

“I can’t even believe I’m playing here this week, actually,” Cernousek said after balancing three birdies with two bogeys. “It’s one of the most important tournaments out there for me. It’s super fun to be able to be here.”

Defending champion Allisen Corpuz opened with a 5-over 75 that included a triple bogey at the par-3 12th, though some players had it even worse.

World No. 1 Nelly Korda, who’s won six of her past seven starts, posted a shocking 10-over 80 after shooting a septuple-bogey 10 on her third hole of the day.

Korda’s tee shot at the 161-yard 12th bounced over the green into a bunker. Her shot out of the sand rolled past the pin and into the water. After a penalty drop, her low pitch hit the bank and rolled back into the stream.

Following a second penalty drop, her pitch hit the front of the green and once again rolled back into the water. Korda’s pitch after a third penalty drop stopped about 8 feet past the hole and she two-putted.

“I’m human. I’m going to have bad days,” Korda said. “I played some really solid golf up to this point. Today was just a bad day. That’s all I can say.”

Korda is not the only one in danger of missing Friday’s 36-hole cut. Lydia Ko of New Zealand and Brooke Henderson of Canada were some other big names to shoot 80.

Lexi Thompson, who announced earlier this week that she will retire from full-time competitive golf at season’s end, opened with a 78.

–Field Level Media

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