A veteran and the “rookiest” of rookies lead the Aussie charge after day one of the Women’s Open at windswept Royal Troon.
St Michael’s Steph Kyriacou (+2), playing just her third tournament as a professional, was the talk of the first morning. She held the outright lead midway through the day before a couple of late dropped shots cruelled her stellar round.
A stunning charge by American Amy Olso set the benchmark on a brutal day. Her four under 67 rated as one of her best rounds. Only two other women – Sophia Popov and Marina Alex – under par after the opening round.
It was Kyriacou who had tongues wagging, however, and many on the LPGA Tour scrambling for their media guides.
It was her birdie two at the famous Postage Stamp – the short, par-3 eighth, which helped the St Michael’s member grab a share of the lead with Germany’s Olivia Cowan.
A bogey at nine straight after dropped her back to even. But Kyriacou responded with the third birdie of her round on ten to grab the outright lead at one under.
Rookie Wows Them
A double-bogey on the par-four 12th hole took away her chances of leading, but she also hung tough and dropped just one more shot at the exposed par-3 17th.
The day one talking point was Kyriacou, who turned professional after her runaway victory in the Geoff King Motors Australian Ladies Classic at Bonville earlier this year, only to watch the pandemic – as it has for so many – ruin her LET schedule.
“I’ve just been practising. Playing money games with a few of the boys back home. It was kind of good – it keeps a competitive atmosphere, but that’s pretty much it,” she said.
“It kind of sucked that it all came as soon as I turn pro.”
Kyriacou admitted to a solid dose of nerves on the first tee, but said it might have been worse had she known she’d lead halfway through her round.
“It’s only ten holes in, but I guess it would be pretty cool if I knew. Probably would have got nervous and done something silly.
“But I’m pretty happy with my round. I left a few shots out there, but if you told me at the beginning of the day I was going to have two over, I’d be stoked.
“I did leave a few shots out there, so hopefully tomorrow just fix those mistakes and put myself in contention.”
Her round included a very rare birdie two on the eighth hole, the famous Postage Stamp, a short par three of just 100m.
“Oh, my God, that tee shot is so scary,” she beamed.
“Yeah, the wind was coming off the left, and I had a little wedge. I was hoping I wouldn’t miss the green. I had a perfect number. I put it to about 5-foot and holed the putt. “It felt good.”
Aussies in the mix
The leading Aussie after day one is Katherine Kirk. She defied the uncharacteristic south-westerly lashing the famous coastal links, fighting back to fire a one-over 72 after a shaky start.
Minjee Lee (+3), Hannah Green (+4), Forster/Tuncurry’s Sarah Kemp (+4) and Su Oh (+5) all rallied late to stay in the mix late in the day. Sarah Jane Smith and Whitney Hillier both carded rounds of +7, while Melbourne amateur Gabriela Ruffels hung tough for a long time, but made five bogeys in six holes in her back nine to fade to +8.
Kemp fought hard after being four over through three holes.
She responded brilliantly, however with three birdies – including a great three to finish on the testing 18th, for her opening 75.