21 Aug 2020 | Professional golf |

Olson finds her best at Open

by Contributor

Amy Olson image
Amy Olson on her way to a 67 at Royal Troon today. Photo: Getty

From R&A Media

Scotland’s Catriona Matthew rolled back the years on the links, but it is American Amy Olson who leads after the opening round of the AIG Women’s Open.

At a blustery Royal Troon, with gusts nearing 30 mph for the international field, Olson emerged late in the day to reach four-under-par after an excellent 67 at the first women’s major of the year.

Olson recorded five birdies and just one dropped shot in a fine display of links golf. The 28-year-old, who has posted two top-10 finishes in the Majors, holds a three-stroke lead over fellow American Marina Alex and Germany’s Sophia Popov.

World number 28 Alex, who tied ninth at the Women’s Open in 2014, recovered from a double bogey at the sixth for her 70. Popov, 27, qualified for the championship through the Marathon Classic just two weeks ago, tied second on the Symetra Tour in Arizona last week and only arrived in Scotland on Tuesday. Two birdies in her last three holes propelled her into contention.

“I mean, the conditions out there honestly were so tough,’’ said Olson. “I've said that was the best ball-striking day of my life. I kept the trajectory on every shot what I wanted. My start lines were really good, which was especially important those first nine holes going out into the wind, and my distance control was really good. Where I grew up in North Dakota it gets extremely windy, and so I grew up playing the ball very low. I think that served me very well over here.”

The 2009 champion, Matthew, is in a large group of players on level par (71) after three birdies in her closing four holes.

Well versed in testing links conditions at her North Berwick home, Matthew shrugged off indifferent form to thrive with a new putting grip and lead home hopes. It was impressive from the 50-year-old given she last played Royal Troon competitively as an amateur in 1994.

From the first group of the day, Canadian Alena Sharp also finished on level par. With a grandmother and an uncle born in Scotland, the 39-year-old drew on her heritage as she chases a first major title.

World No.4 Nelly Korda battled hard for a one-over-par 72, helped by an eagle at the par-5 16th, the same total as New Zealand’s Lydia Ko. American Lizette Salas and the 2018 Women’s Open champion Georgia Hall are a shot further back after 73s.

The nearest of Australia’s nine competitors is Katherine Kirk who shot a one-over par 72 to be tied-14th after the first round.

First-time major player Stephanie Kyriacou led outright at one point of her round and ended up carding a highly respectable two-over par 73 to be tied-23rd, while world No.8 Minjee Lee began with a three-over par 74.

AIG Women's Open leaderboard

Kyriacou's big day at Troon

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