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Pair Set Pace at Women's British Open; Park Three Back
American Morgan Pressel and Sweden's Camilla Lennarth fired 6-under 66s to take a share of the opening-round lead in the Women's British Open. The LPGA Tour's fourth major of the year is taking place at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland.
Inbee Park, seeking to become the first player - male or female - in history to win four professional majors in the same season, shot a 69.
A 25-year-old Floridian with two career victories, Pressel carded seven birdies and a bogey on Thursday. The Stockholm-born Lennarth, a two-time All-American at the University of Alabama, enjoyed a flawless outing with three birdies on the front nine of the historic course and three more on the back.
Pressel, one of whose wins was a major at the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship, said she's trying her best not to focus on making the U.S. Solheim Cup team, which will be announced after the Women's British Open, but that it's hard.
"It's something I don't want to miss and something that I'm definitely thinking about - and at the same time, trying not to think about and trying to worry about focusing on this week," said the player known for her gritty competitiveness. "That was my biggest goal coming into this week, to not think about Solheim Cup."
One shot back are seven players - Americans Sydnee Michaels, Ryann O'Toole, Nicole Castrale and Stacy Lewis, and a trio of South Koreans - Eun-Hee Ji, Mi-Jeong Jeon and Na Yeon Choi.
Posting 68s were Americans Lizette Salas, Danielle Kang, Dori Carter and Paula Creamer along with Sweden's Pernilla Lindberg, Scotland's Catriona Matthew and England's Georgia Hall and Liz Young. Hall is a 17-year-old amateur from Dorset.
Creamer noted she's inspired by playing at the centuries-old course. "Just being the 'home of golf,' and all the history that's happened, and just to kind of walk these fairways, where the greatest players have ever played, it's humbling and exciting," she told reporters. "At the same time, you want to do well and be in contention on Sunday."
No. 1-ranked Park, among 20 players posting 3-under 69s, got off to a great start. The 25-year-old South Korean birdied six of the first 10 holes but stumbled with a bogey on the par-4 13th before recording a double on the 16th followed by another bogey and a birdie at the last.
With such pre-tournament attention on her possible feat, Park admitted she was a bit excited at the start of the round. "Because I know what I was playing for, I was a little more nervous," she told reporters. "But then once the round started, and especially playing so good in the first few holes, that really gave me a lot of confidence."
The round turned when she started missing fairways with her tee shots. "Those couple of bad shots really shocked me and I really wanted to fix them right away," Park said. Her double-bogey on the par-4 16th - which came when she blocked her drive and put her second shot into the only bunker she found all day - was only her second in a major championship.
"Felt like a rollercoaster today," added the six-time winner this year. "I'm just glad that (the Open) started and I finished the first round, 25 percent of the tournament. You know, if I could walk out of this tournament with no regrets, that's what I'm looking to do and that's all I could ask for."
Defending champion Jiyai Shin also shot a 69 on a day that had a steady mist but not too much wind. Clearer skies are forecast for Friday.
For all the scores, visit www.lpga.com.
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