SAN MARTIN — Mirim Lee of South Korea tied the lowest round to par in U.S. Women’s Open history on Thursday, carding an 8-under, 64.
Lee birdied five of her last seven holes to secure a three-stroke lead heading into today’s second round.
“Today’s round was an easy day, easy round,” Lee said.
The USGA will likely take a look at Lee’s score and those comments when discussing pin placements and watering treatment for the rest of the weekend. Typically, Open courses get faster and tougher as the weekend progresses, especially if there are low scores on the first day.
Playing in the morning on Thursday, Lee was able to take advantage of a course that had a little softness to it. In the afternoon, the winds picked up and the greens dried out quite a bit, making it more difficult.
Lee was able to get to 8-under by going low on some of the most difficult holes on the course. She was 3-under on the seven holes that played the most difficult on Thursday, including a birdie to finish her round on the par-5 ninth, which was the second toughest hole on the course.
The 25-year-old is hoping to build on her fourth-place finish at last month’s Women’s PGA Championship — her best finish in a major championship thus far.
The highly anticipated grouping of young superstars Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson and Brooke Henderson all struggled through the windy afternoon, each finishing above-par on the day.
Overall, the afternoon scoring average on Thursday was a full two shots higher than the morning average.
When asked about Lee’s 8-under, Ko jokingly offered, “I don’t know what course she played today.”
That grouping will have a chance today to see what the course looks like in the morning, while Lee will have to face the drier afternoon conditions.
In a three-way tie for second after day one at 5-under-par are Minjee Lee, Amy Yang and 2007 Open champion Christie Kerr.
Yang is the only one of the three who played in the afternoon. She carded four birdies on the back nine en route to a 32, the lowest score on the back nine for the day. Looking to break through at a major championship for the first time, Yang has three top-five finishes in the U.S. Women’s Open over the last four years.
San Jose native Christina Kim is tied for 11th after a solid 2-under-par, 70. Kim hit the ball extremely well throughout the morning and gave herself plenty of chances at birdie, but struggled to find the stroke with her putter.