Tough opener for Stephanie Meadow at Women’s British Open

Stephanie Meadow
Stephanie Meadow

Stephanie Meadow, making her third start as a professional, battled to a five over 77 that left her in a tie for 86th in the first round of the 2014 Ricoh Women’s British Open.

Double-bogeys at the ninth and 15th proved costly for Stephanie who also recorded three birdies and four bogeys.

The 22-year-old, originally from Jordanstown, qualified for the event on Monday, just a day after finishing joint third at the ISPS Handa European Masters.

Japan’s Ayako Uehara set the pace with a four-under-par 68 in beautiful, sunny conditions at Royal Birkdale on England’s north western coast.

The 30-year-old from Okinawa dropped a shot on the opening hole after finding a bunker, but proceeded to collect five birdies at the fifth, sixth, eighth and 12th.

The three-time tournament winner on the LPGA of Japan ended the day a stroke clear of Mo Martin from the United States, with Mina Harigae and Morgan Pressel and Australian Sarah Kemp a stroke further behind on two-under-par.

Uehara was pleased with her opening round and believes improved putting was the key to her success.

“I had many good birdie chances but I couldn’t make it,” she said. “But this week, so good, so I have confidence right now.”

Kemp had not played the famous Southport course, which will host the Open Championship in 2017, before and admitted she was pleased that the weather was kind.

“I think it’s one of the hardest golf courses I’ve ever played,” she said.

“We were lucky today with the weather. It wasn’t as windy.”

England’s Charley Hull was one of 23 players to take a double bogey, or worse, on the first hole and the 18-year-old Solheim Cup star dropped another stroke on the second, but she recovered with three birdies against a closing bogey in a round of 73.

US Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie could only manage a three-over-par 75 featuring five bogeys and two birdies.