09 Oct 2020 | Professional golf |

Aussies battle at tough Aronimink

by Mark Hayes

Su Oh puts her all into a drive on the fourth at Aronimink.
Su Oh puts her all into a drive on the fourth at Aronimink.

Australia’s hopes of a second successive KPMG Women’s PGA Championship took a nosedive on a tough opening day in Pennsylvania.

The beauty of first-time women’s major championship course Aronimink was obvious to all – as was the challenge of the classic Philadelphia course as only 12 of the elite LPGA Tour field broke par despite a pleasant, if not breezy, autumn day.

Malaysian Kelly Tan rode a hot back nine to climb to three under and share the first-round lead with American veteran Brittany Lincicome.

But the six-strong Australian challenge, who each carried title aspirations, battled to find enough birdies to counter the seemingly inevitable bogeys on the Donald Ross-designed layout.

World No.6 Minjee Lee, of Perth, couldn’t find one, yet hung tough to card a three-over round of 73 to share top Aussie honours with Katherine Kirk and Su Oh.

Kirk, on the back of three consecutive top-10 finishes, had slipped to four over through 12 holes after starting on the 10th, but managed to play the closing six one under to share 55th with her countrywomen.

Oh similarly made a late birdie to keep her head above water, but it wasn’t similar news for her best mate and defending champion Hannah Green.

The West Australian simply couldn’t buy a putt and compounded her problems with a couple of uncharacteristically wayward double-bogeys that left her title defence effectively in tatters with an opening birdie-free 79.

Sarah Kemp and Sarah Jane Smith each made one birdie en route to rounds of 77 and 78, respectively, but will need slashing rounds tomorrow just to make the cut.

Of the other big names, in-form Danielle Kang is well placed at two under alongside New Zealander Lydia Ko, while Lexi Thompson, Georgia Hall and reigning Women’s Australian Open champ Inbee Park are among a big group at even par.

Play was suspended because of darkness with one group still on course.

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