Last year’s British Open champion Hinako Shibuno made four birdies on the back nine to seize the lead during Friday’s action at the U.S. Women’s Open in Houston, Texas.
The 22-year-old from Japan carded a four-under par 67 for a three-stroke lead over Sweden’s Linn Grant (69), recovering from two bogeys on the Jackrabbit course, one of two layouts being used at Champions Golf Club due to diminished daylight hours.
“Today my tee shots found the rough more often. However, my second shots were pretty stable and able to par on to the greens,” said Shibuno.
“My golf today was pretty safe, stable condition. At the same time, when it comes to the chance for a birdie, my putting was pretty good.”
Grant, who is one of six amateurs to make the cut, credits her father – a former college player-turned-instructor who caddies for her this week – with helping her develop her short game.
“He’s more like my safety zone now, especially when he caddies. He keeps me calm on the golf course,” said Grant. “We know each other. We know how we work together. So right now he’s just security.”
American Amy Olson ceded her first-round lead after a trio of bogeys and a double-bogey on the par-four 15 saw her carding a one-over par 72, finishing her round tied for third with compatriots Kaitlyn Papp and Megan Khang.
Elsewhere in the field, two-time major winner Cristie Kerr enjoyed a bogey-free two-under par 69 at Cypress Creek, despite playing through significant pain from a recent golf cart collision that left her with dislocated ribs and nearly kept her out of the competition.
“I played just pretty solid golf until the last five holes when my rib and my lat and everything back here just started really killing me,” said the 43-year-old American, who was tied for sixth at the end of play, five strokes back from the lead.
The U.S. Women’s Open, the oldest women’s golf major in its 75th year, was rescheduled from June to December due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is being held without spectators.