Pressel and Lennarth Take Route 66 to the Top of the Leaderboard

Morgan Pressell First Round Leader 650x250

America’s Morgan Pressel and Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth carded superb rounds of six under par 66 to storm into a one shot lead after a low scoring first round of the 2013 Ricoh Women’s British Open over the Old Course at St Andrews

Pressel, who plays out of the St Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida, and was also educated at St Andrews School in the same town, and Lennarth, a rookie on the Ladies’ European Tour, go into the second round with a single shot advantage over a cosmopolitan group comprising Americans Stacy Lewis, Nicole Castrale, Ryan O’Toole and Sydnee Michaels and South Koreans Na Yeon Choi, Mi-Jeong Jeon and Eun-Hee Ji.

The leaders were among a total of over 50 players who broke par on a day when rain fell intermittently but the wind never rose to more than 5 miles and hour.

Pressel began her round with a birdie on the 376-yard opening hole where she hit a gap wedge to 12 inches and then holed the putt. She gained another shot at the 561-par-5 yard 5th but gave it back when she drove into a bunker on the 369-yard par-4 6th before securing her third birdie of the day on the 347-yard par-4 9th where she hit her 56-degree wedge into two feet from the hole.

The American went on to claim another birdie when she hit an 8-iron into 10-feet on the treacherous 160-yard par-3 before moving to six under par with three consecutive birdies from the 13th.

“I felt good out there today,” said the 25 year-old American, whose best finish in this Championship to date came back at Royal Birkdale in 2010 where she finished tied-8th behind Yani Tseng

Pressel missed the cut with rounds of 80 and 76 on her previous visit to St Andrews in 2007 but believes she now has a much better understanding of how to play links golf.

“The last time I played here I was pretty down on links golf and wasn’t really looking forward to coming back to the British Open,” she said.

“But since then I have gotten better at managing my game and hitting shots. At a British Open you can’t just hit a stock draw. That just doesn’t work. You have to hit high shots and low shots. You have to bump it and sometimes putt from 40-yards off the green.

“You’ve got to do whatever it takes and as a creative person that’s something I enjoy.”

Lennarth went out at 3.06 pm in the third last match of the day but quickly got into her stride with  a birdie on the 376-yard 1st and then proceeded to fire five further birdies in a flawless round that sees her share the first round lead in what is her first appearance in a Major Championship.

The 25 year-old from Stockholm, who was a member of the European Junior Solheim Cup team back in 2004, collected her second birdie of the day on the 561-yard par-5 5th and then reached the turn in 33 after another birdie on the 347-yard par-4 9th. She added further birdies to her card on the 10th and the 14th and then completed a fine day’s work by holing from six feet above the hole for a three on the 357-yard par-4 closing hole.

“I’m very satisfied, definitely,” confirmed the Swede. “I hit all the fairways and all the greens, and it went pretty smooth out there.

“I have been very excited ever since I qualified (at Kingsbarns) on Monday. “No matter what happens, I’m just going to enjoy every moment and take it all in.”

Just off the first page of the leaderboard Scotland’s Catriona Matthew carded a four under par 68 to share 10th place with a large group that included Paula Creamer, Liz Young, Danielle Kang, Lizette Salas, Pernilla Lindberg, and amateur Georgia Hall.

Matthew won the 2009 Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes and would like nothing better than to claim a second title in front of her home fans at the Home of Golf.

The 43 year-old from North Berwick began her round with birdies on the 400-yard par-4 2nd and the 370-yard par-4 3rd and completed it with a rare birdie on the 443-yard par-4 17th followed by another 3 on the 347-yard par-4 closing hole.

“I’m very pleased. It’s always nice to finish a round with two birdies and especially with one on the 17th here,” said Matthew who is on a fine run of form that has seen her lose to Park in a play-off at the Wegmans LPGA, finish tied 15th at the US Women’s Open and third at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic during her last four starts.

“I would say my form is probably the best it has ever been,” the veteran Scot added. “Maybe I’m maturing with age.”

“Normally I would be coming here straight from The Evian but this year I’ve had two weeks at home and have played a lot of links golf at North Berwick. The weather has been nice so the kids have had me on the beach all the time. It’s been a good mixture so I feel nicely prepared.”

England’s Georgia Hall’s 68 leaves her with a slender one shot lead over World No. 1 amateur, Lydia Ko, in the race for the Smyth Salver awarded to the leading amateur who plays all four rounds.

There are a total of six amateurs in this year’s field. Further down the leaderboard Welsh Curtis Cup player, Amy Boulden, carded a fine two under par 72, France’s Celine Boutier recorded a level par 72 while Gabriella Cowley and British and English stroke play champion, Sarah-Jane Boyd, finished in 75 and 77 respectively.

World No. 1 professional, Inbee Park, began her bid for an historic fourth leg of the Grand Slam with a three under par 69. The 25 year-old from Seoul raced to the turn in five under par 31 and also birdied the 340-yard par-4 10th but then dropped back into the pack with bogeys on the 13th and 17th and a double bogey on the 381-yard par-4 16th where she drove into the left rough and then had to hit her third shot sideways out of one of the deep greenside bunkers.

“It felt a bit like a rollercoaster out there today,” she said. “I played very good on the front side but was a little shaky on the back nine. However, I still feel pretty good about my game. I was 6-under through 10 holes and that means I could do the same thing tomorrow.”

 

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