U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN

Lin, Kim Share First-Round Lead at Damp, Chilly Pebble Beach

By David Shefter, USGA

| Jul 06, 2023 | Pebble Beach, Calif.

Lin, Kim Share First-Round Lead at Damp, Chilly Pebble Beach

A marine layer, temperatures in the 50s, and some morning mist seemed like the perfect way to start the 78th U.S. Women’s Open Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Why not greet the game’s best female players with some traditional Monterey Peninsula weather.

Such was the setting on the first Thursday of July for the first female major championship ever being contested on this iconic layout. And the course more than lived up to the billing.

“I think it's absolutely right,” said Xiyu (Janet) Lin, of the People’s Republic of China, whose 4-under 68 shared the top spot on the leader board with 2018 runner-up Hyo Joo Kim. “It's been amazing this couple of days to play here, walk in the town, I love this town. I love Monterrey, the [Carmel] Valley. Everything is so nice here, so chill.

“Just think we're part of the history. I kind of told myself no matter what, this is going to be a memorable week.”

Lin and Kim, who won the 2014 Amundi Evian Championship for her lone major title, own a one-stroke lead over two-time LPGA Tour winner Leona Maguire, Hae Ran Ryu, 2021 runner-up Nasa Hataoka, 2016 USA Curtis Cup competitor Bailey Tardy, 2021 USA Curtis Cup competitor Allisen Corpuz, and amateur Aine Donegan.

Two strokes back were 2019 champion Jeongeun Lee 6, two-time runner-up Amy Yang, and collegian stars Benedetta Moresco (Alabama), of Italy, and 2022 USA Curtis Cup star Amari Avery (University of Southern California), while major champions Brooke Henderson and Patty Tavatanakit were among eight players to post 1-under 71.

Coming off a tie for third in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., Lin led the field in strokes gained putting (+3.6) and in the top 15 in strokes gained short game (+1.69). She was bogey free until the par-4 ninth hole, her last of the day, when she missed a 10-footer after failing to hit the green in regulation. Lin rolled in an 18-footer for birdie on No. 4, an 8-footer on 15 and a 30-footer on No. 18.

Kim, who carded a major-championship-record 61 in the opening round of her Evian win nine years ago, got her day started by rolling in an 11-footer for birdie on the par-5 second. More birdies followed at Nos. 4, 5 and 8 before registering her lone bogey of the round on the par-4 ninth, which was the second-toughest in Round 1 (4.43). She got back to 4 under by holing a 20-footer on No. 17.

“Tomorrow I'll be playing in the morning, so the course conditions might be different,” said Kim. “But I will adapt as best as I can and I hope to have continuously satisfying shots.”

Tardy, 26, of Norcross, Ga., qualified for her fourth U.S. Women’s Open on May 22 in a four-hole sudden-death playoff, but first as a professional. But she failed to play the weekend in her three previous starts, the last six years ago at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., while she was earning All-America honors at the University of Georgia. The one-time Epson Tour winner and current LPGA Tour rookie made one of two eagles in Round 1, rolling in a 14-footer on the par-5 sixth hole after an uphill 3-wood approach from 220 yards, while adding birdies at No. 7 and 18. Her lone hiccup came on No. 16.

Donegan’s first U.S. Women’s Open began with an airline adventure while traveling from last week’s Vagliano Trophy, which Great Britain and Ireland lost by three points to Continental Europe. Her clubs didn’t arrive during the long trek from Dublin to San Francisco. And in the process, one of her two drivers got damaged. So a bogey-bogey start on Nos. 10 and 11 to her first round in a major didn’t faze the 21-year-old rising junior at Louisiana State University.

Xiyu (Janet) Lin, coming off a top-3 finish in last month's KPMG Women's PGA, continued her hot play with a 68 on Thursday at Pebble Beach. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

Xiyu (Janet) Lin, coming off a top-3 finish in last month's KPMG Women's PGA, continued her hot play with a 68 on Thursday at Pebble Beach. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

All Donegan did was hole a 96-yard approach on the 15th hole for an eagle 2, and then birdie the iconic par-3 17th to make the turn at 1-under 35. Four birdies in a five-hole stretch from No. 2 offset bogeys on Nos. 1 and 9.

Last year at Pine Needles, LSU teammate and current world No. 1 amateur Ingrid Lindblad opened with an amateur 18-hole-record 65. Chatting with Lindblad at the Vagliano Trophy, where she posted a 2-and-1 singles win, and playing a practice round with three-time champion Annika Sorenstam helped her preparation.

“The whole thing has been a bit surreal to be honest,” said Donegan, who is No. 144 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking®. “Nearly every five minutes it's like a pink-me movement. Even just walking to the putting green and young girls asking for autographs and stuff. It's like, that was me. And to do it at a place like Pebble Beach is something I'll never forget.

“On Tuesday I played 18 holes with Annika, and honestly, it was one of the best days of my life. You learn a lot from her, and at the end of the day she's the icon of the game, the GOAT.”

Fellow Irishwoman Maguire, who claimed her second LPGA Tour win in Michigan last month, played herself into the final pairing of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship two weeks ago, only to shoot a final-round 74 and share 11th. Putting that finish in the rearview mirror, the former Duke University All-American rolled in in late birdies on 15 and 18. On the closing par 5, she knocked her approach from 115 yards to 5 feet.

Corpuz, a native Hawaiian who surpassed Michelle Wie as the youngest qualifier in U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links history (2008), birdied the difficult par-4 eighth – her 17th of the day – with a 198-yard approach to 5 feet.

What’s Next

All 156 players will play Round 2 on Friday, beginning at Nos. 1 and 10 at 7 a.m. PDT. At the conclusion of the second round, the field will be cut to the low 60 and ties. Peacock will stream live from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. EDT, with USA Network picking up the coverage from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Featured Groups can also be streamed on the USGA App.

Bailey Tardy survived a four-hole playoff just to qualify to play at Pebble Beach, and then she posted a first-round 69 on Thursday. (USGA/James Gilbert)

Bailey Tardy survived a four-hole playoff just to qualify to play at Pebble Beach, and then she posted a first-round 69 on Thursday. (USGA/James Gilbert)

Notable

  • The stroke average for Round 1 was 75.53.

  • Minjee Lee, looking to become the first player to successfully defend since fellow Aussie Karrie Webb in 2001, opened with an even-par 72.

  • Other notable scores were even-par 72s from past champions In Gee Chun (2015) and Yuka Saso (2021); a 73 by 2020 champion A Lim Kim; 74s from newly minted professional and two-time USGA champion Rose Zhang, Lexi Thompson and local favorite Mina Harigae, 75s by 2016 champion Brittany Lang and 2022 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Yana Wilson; 76s by past champions Eun Hee Ji (2009), So Yeon Ryu (2011) and Ariya Jutanugarn (2018), world No. 2 Nelly Korda, and world No. 3 Lydia Ko; and 79s by 2023 Chevron Championship winner Lilia Vu, reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Saki Baba and reigning U.S. Senior Women’s Open champion Jill McGill.

  • Michelle Wie West, who has announced that this year’s U.S. Women’s Open will be her final competitive event, had quite the adventure on the iconic par-5 18th hole. Her third shot got stuck in a tree near the green, resulting in a triple-bogey 8 for the 2014 champion. Wie West shot a 79.

  • Three-time champion and World Golf Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam, also likely competing in her final U.S. Women’s Open, carded an 80.

  • Natthakritta Vongtaveelap was disqualified from the championship after five holes when it was discovered that her caddie had used a distance-measuring device on multiple occasions. The first breach is a general penalty (two strokes), and the second breach resulted in disqualification. While DMDs are allowed in USGA amateur competitions, they are not permitted in USGA Open championships.

Quotable

“It's golf. These things happen. I think you have to get on with things pretty quickly, dust yourself off. Still a fantastic week even if Sunday didn't go my way. I think when you've got another major coming up as quick as this was and at somewhere like Pebble, I think your focus shifts pretty quickly. Looking forward to another opportunity this week hopefully.” – Leona Maguire

“Honestly, I think it was just the nerves. You're teeing it up in the U.S. Open. This is my first U.S. Open as a professional, so just having that in the back of your mind … can hinder your swing. This is my fourth U.S. Open and I've just been using all my prior experience to Pebble and being in a major championship setting to calm my nerves.” – Bailey Tardy

“I think just growing up in Hawaii, just being along the ocean a lot definitely helps. And then [Pebble Beach] is actually really similar to a course we played in college (USC), Trump National (in Palos Verdes, Calif.). It's along the ocean, Poa [annua] greens. Yeah, feeling pretty comfortable out here.” – Allisen Corpuz

“I watch TV [of] PGA Tour [AT&T National Pro-Am] and [past] U.S. Opens. It looks really tough, but I'm really enjoying right now.” – Nasa Hataoka after carding a 3-under 69  

“I was definitely nervous my first holes. But it's my third major, so I've experienced [the hoopla] already, and for the first time I feel like [I’m] in the right place.” – amateur Benedetta Moresco (bogey-free 70) on competing on a big stage

“It's so surreal. I catch myself on every hole just kind of looking out to the ocean and just appreciating the fact that I'm even here, playing a U.S. Open.” – Amari Avery

“I can't even tell you how different it is now. So many things are different with [the] players, the amount of talent we have out here right now, and it's so diverse. Just the depth is so much deeper, and obviously the prize money has gone up so much even in the last five years that I have been playing, and it's continuing to go up and up. Obviously, the USGA have set such a great benchmark for all the other events, so that's really cool to see.” – defending champion Minjee Lee

“I almost started crying on the first tee. It was just amazing. I don't even have words to describe it.” – Kelly Xu on hitting the opening tee shot

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.