The Kingsmill Championship got off to a good start today with Ariya Jutanugarn from Thailand ascending the leaderboard, to lead the tournament by two shots.
Ariya Jutanugarn / Steve Helber
17 year-old Ayria, playing on a sponsor exemption, cruised through her first sixteen holes on The River Course during Thursday’s opening round, with eight birdies, including six during her first seven holes. She came unstuck on hole seventeen, a par three, she made double bogey, but recovered a bit with a birdie on eighteen. Ayria can be very proud of her -7 under par, 64, opening round on the par 71 lay-out;
” I know like eighteen is not a long par four, I can make birdie on that hole.Today, I made a lot of shots. I don’t have any nerve any more.”
In second place at -5 under par, after her first round of 66 is two-time champion at Kingsmill, Cristie Kerr, who birdied both 17 and 18 to finish in style. Cristie spoke about the early wind;
“The wind was really strong when we first started and then, you know, kind of toward the tail end of the front nine it seemed to die down a little and then picked back up, so it was kind of coming and going all day. What was good was the wind direction was fairly consistent. Sometimes on the 4th and 5th hole it can really swirl around and it can be hard to tell what it’s doing. It stayed pretty consistent out there as far as one direction so that was at least a good thing. Momentum’s always the thing that you want to try and have, you try and carry over the play from today into tomorrow as best you can.”
Tied in third place at -4 under par, after rounds of 67, are So Yeon Ryu from South Korea and Dewie Claire Schreefel, who hails from the Netherlands.
So Yeon said it was tough and she had tried to focus on one hole at a time;
” Yeah, that one is really tough one because before I started, teed off, I didn’t expect a really low score, then I just focus on each hole. Then I think the 4‑under on the front nine that, oh, maybe I can hit the low score like 8‑under, 9‑under, then I expect birdie birdie birdie and my body’s getting tight and my mind wasn’t there, so it’s really hard to finish great front nine and then turn on the back nine.”
Dewie Claire has fond memories of her first visit here, and her host family, and strangely Sushie;
“ Yeah, I stayed with them, I flew into Washington on Monday, drove down to Richmond and saw them, had a good time, just went to dinner and I stayed over. They’re one of the best host families I’ve had. He’ll be out here watching tomorrow. Last year they came out the whole weekend. They have unbelievable sushi there, it’s really fresh and the host just kind of splurges, he gets really good tuna. I love sushi and it’s the best sushi I’ve had.”
There are fourteen players sitting on -3 under par, so it is a packed leaderboard, maybe tomorrow there will be some separation.