With mild conditions and an extremely benevolent setup by the USGA — words you never thought you’d hear! — Sebonack was for the taking in the first round of the U.S. Women’s Open, which certainly didn’t make it “easy,” either. Without further ado (and because I’m starving), Thursday’s top five…
5.) Natalie Gulbis: The blonde bombshell contracted malaria earlier this year in Asia and only recently made a full recovery, which showed with her play on Thursday. “It’s always great to shoot par any day at the U.S. Open and under par is even better,” said Gulbis after posting a two-under 70. “If you hit good shots you were rewarded for it. The greens were perfect this morning and the wind wasn’t too tough. I think that the morning rounds definitely showed that.”
4.) Lizette Salas: Gulbis was low American for most of the day — until Salas posted a late four-under 68. I love her spunk and energy.
3.) I.K. Kim: Known for “The Miss” that cost her a playoff at the Kraft Nabisco Championship last year, this girl handled herself with such grace that she deserves a shout-out for simply being on the first page of the leaderboard. After tying Inbee Park at five-under with a birdie on no. 13, Kim dropped a shot with a bogey on her last hole. Asked how eager she was to be in the hunt to win a major, Kim said, “You know what, I’m just really happy with my life. I mean, it’s great to win a major championship. I feel great this week, so I’m not really pushing anything.” She wins at life.
2.) The Korda Sisters: What a couple of badasses. Nelly, who is only 14, shot one-over despite a triple-bogey and a double-bogey this morning. Oh, and she wasn’t nervous on the first tee. “I was just like how am I not nervous?” said Nelly. “I just went up to it and hit it like it was a junior tournament.” No big deal! By the way, do you remember what you were doing at 14? Meanwhile, her big sister Jessica, 20, just wrapped up a solid two-under 70 effort.
1b.) Ha-Neul Kim: Oh, wow! Re-write those ledes, guys. Kim, who wrapped up her round in the final minutes of daylight (and messed up all the game stories in the papers!), outdid Park’s effort and fired a very impressive six-under 66.
1c.) My first five holes at National this morning. Just kidding, but no, really. After you par nos. 3 — especially with that nasty, sadistic pin on the very front bit of the green — and 4, you feel like you’ve won at life.
Quote of the (yester)day: “I think it’s kind of hard to differentiate one Kim to another. But being out here, I mean, they all have really different personalities, and they’re a lot of fun. It’s just hard for the American culture to get a grip on them.” –Juli Inkster
Photo of the day: This was the first thing I saw when I walked up to Sebonack this morning…Pornapong Phatlum hitting some practice putts. She shot one-under 71. More power to her.
Last I checked the forecast predicted 20-30mph winds (like four clubs) for Friday. That should certainly make things interesting for Friday’s round. If that does indeed happen, we’ll definitely see scores in the 90s. Carnage!
(Getty Images/Scott Halleran)