RICOH Women's British Open First Round Notes and Interviews

Ayako Uehara
Photo Credit: David Cannon/Getty Images

Ayako Uehara of Japan hits an approach during the first round of the Ricoh Women's British Open at Royal Birkdale on July 10, 2014 in Southport, England.

RICOH Women’s British Open
Royal Birkdale Golf Club
Southport, England
First Round Notes
July 10, 2014

Ayako Uehara, Rolex Rankings No. 125, -4
Mo Martin, Rolex Rankings No. 99, -3
Morgan Pressel, Rolex Rankings No. 41, -2
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 1, -1
Holly Clyburn, Rolex Rankings No. 98, -1
Charley Hull, Rolex Rankings No. 32, +1
Michelle Wie, Rolex Rankings No. 6, +3

The sentiment from players early in the week at the RICOH Women’s British Open was that Royal Birkdale would likely provide a stiff test for the best female golfers in the world. On Thursday, the course proved them all correct as low scores were difficult to find even on an ideal weather day.

With the sun shining and the wind tempered from previous practice days, Ayako Uehara proved to be one of the few players able to score in the first round at Royal Birkdale. Uehara shot a 4-under 68 in Thursday’s first round to take a one-shot lead over California native Mo Martin.

Uehara opened her round with a bogey but that would be her only stumbling block of the day. She made three birdies in a four-hole stretch on the front and closed with two more birdies on the back to hold sole possession of the lead.

“[I feel] so great right now, because I shoot 4‑under today, and I played with Stacy Lewi and Charley ull today,” Uehara said. “I enjoyed so much.”

The day proved to be much tougher for the majority of the field. Only nine players out of the 144-player field managed to shoot under-par at the difficult Royal Birkdale track on Thursday.

Morgan Pressel, who was the third-round leader at last year’s RICOH Women’s British Open, shot an opening round 2-under 70 and sits in a tie for third with fellow American Mina Harigae and Australian Sarah Kemp.

Among the other players lurking a few shots back of Uehara at 1-under-par is defending champion and current Rolex Rankings No. 1 Stacy Lewis. After going one-over on her front nine, Lewis managed to turn things around on the back with two birdies and no bogeys. She finds herself within striking distance of the leader.

“I think anything under par on this golf course is a good score,” Lewis said. “It definitely could have been better. Didn’t hit the ball great today. But managed to get the ball in the hole and posted a red number, which is good.”

Ayako Uehara headed to the clubhouse after her opening round of the RICOH Women’s British Open and couldn’t wipe the smile off her face

The last time Uehara started the second round as the leader was the 2012 Mizuno Classic after an opening round 68 that year. She ended with a career-best 3rd place finish in that tournament. Uehara, who finished third in the 2013 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race, has not yet won an event on the LPGA Tour but she had Rolex Rankings No. 1 Stacy Lewis taking notes from her performance on Thursday.

“Ayako obviously put up a really good number,” Lewis said. “She seems like she wasn’t in trouble at all. She was just greens, greens, center of the green every day. You can kind of learn a little bit from that and maybe not go at so many pins.”

Mo Martin has played enough links golf to know that golf courses like Royal Birkdale require some creativity. It’s why during her practice round on Wednesday, Martin asked her caddie to throw down a bunch of balls about 50 yards away from the green on the par-5 18th hole so she could attempt to putt them.

It was a decision that paid off for Martin in Thursday’s first round. After laying up her second shot to about 40 yards in front of the 18th green, Martin pulled out her putter. With a smooth stroke, Martin putted her third shot to three feet and then sank the birdie putt to move into second place all on her own.

“That was kind of the epitome of that creativity,” Martin said of the putt. “I practiced that shot in the practice round. I hit a couple balls from there and it just rolls out so smoothly here. Just said, hey, why not, let’s have some fun with this.”

Martin is not a long hitter like many of the top players on the LPGA Tour. Instead, she approaches every week with the mentality that she needs to think her way around a golf course. It’s one of the reasons why she loves this event because it often requires a golfer to use more strategy than just overpowering a golf course.

The soft-spoken Martin cracked a smile as she described what she loves about Royal Birkdale.

“It really keeps you in the moment,” she said. “So every hole, every shot is its own test. It’s designed so well, and I just think ‑‑ you just really have to have so much strategy. I don’t hit a lot of 3‑woods off the tee because I don’t hit it very far, and I hit probably four 3‑woods today. So that just tells you what all is out there.”

Charley Hull didn’t have the start she wanted in the opening round of the RICOH Women’s British Open, going
double-bogey and bogey on the first two holes, but rebounded well to go bogey-free until she ran into some trouble on 18.

“There’s plenty of holes out there and then I got it back which I was quite happy with.” Hull described of her mindset heading to the third tee. “A bit of a low start this morning. A shame to finish with bogey but it was a good bogey in the end. From the middle part of my round I played really well.”

She avoided any serious trouble for 15 consecutive holes before blocking a tee shot on 18.

“That block just came out of the middle of nowhere, but I hit a good second drive and made a good up and down on last and pretty happy how I’m hitting it anyway.” Hull said.

Despite the trouble on those three holes, Hull heads into tomorrow feeling positive about her overall play and ball striking.

“Looking forward to tomorrow and hope I can hit it like I did in the middle part of my round today.” Hull said.

At the end of the day she finds herself just five shots back of leader Ayako Uehara (-4) heading into the second round.

Three players withdrew from the 2014 RICOH Women’s British Open today...Lizette Salas withdrew due to a back injury. Salas was replaced by alternate Lucy Williams from England...Caroline Masson withdrew after nine holes of her first round due to illness...Cristie Kerr withdrew due to illness after she finished her round.

Stacy Lewis will remain the Rolex Rankings No. 1 player if she finishes in a 3-way tie for 2nd-or-better at the RICOH Women’s British Open. If Lydia Ko wins this week, she will take over the No. 1 ranking as long as Stacy finishes in a 4-way tie for 2nd or worse.

There are seven LPGA rookies in the field this week in Amy Anderson, Stacy Keating, Joanna Klatten, Lydia Ko, Mirim Lee, Xi Yu Lin, Line Videl. The last rookie to win a major was Anna Nordqvist at the 2009 LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock Golf Course in Havre de Grace, Maryland.

“Really enjoyed it (playing with Karrie) until she hit somebody in the face. She handled it well. I hope the guy is okay. She hits it great and she also putts fantastic so it’s lovely to watch somebody so great.
-Holly Clyburn on how she liked playing with Karrie Webb, who fired a 72 today but also hit a spectator with an errant shot on 15.

ESPN2 will be televising the tournament this week in the United States. Below are the air times for the remaining rounds of the RICOH Women’s British Open.

July 11
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
July 12
8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
July 13
8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

*All times listed are U.S. Eastern time

There were 23 double-bogeys (4.81 avg) or worse on the first hole during Rd.1 of the RICOH Women’s British Open.


Ayako Uehara, Rolex Rankings No. 125, -4

Q.  How are you feeling out there?
AYAKO UEHARA:  Yeah, so great right now, because I shoot 4‑under today, and I played with Stacy and Charley today, I enjoyed so much, yeah.

Q.  What's it like playing with the No. 1 player in the world, Stacy Lewis, at a major tournament?
Yeah, she is so like accuracy and everything is so great.  The putting is good and chipping good, everything good.  So I learn everything, yeah.

Q.  And you head to the clubhouse as the leader today.  The last time you were in that position was 2012 Mizuno Classic.  How do you feel heading into tomorrow?
Yeah, I think we have three more days and British Open is like a many seasons, like a raining, windy and cold, hot, so I have to like prepare for tomorrow, yeah.


Q.  What worked for you today?  What went right?
Today, putting so good, so that's why I think.

Q.  Have you been working on your putting? Has it been a problem this year?
Yes, before this week, my putting not so good.  So I had many good birdie chance but I couldn't make it.  But this week, so good, so I had confidence right now.

Q.  You're from Okinawa?

Q.  Which is windy there.

Q.  How comfortable are you playing on links golf courses like this?
  Like Okinawa, like links course, windy every time, same like this.  So wind I can I can play.

Q.  Is your home course a links course?
Not a links course, but every time, so windy, yeah, at Okinawa.  I like wind like a tournament.

Q.  And where does this round rank for you in terms of the way that you've played this year?  Is this the best round you feel that you've had this year?
Yes, I think so.


Mo Martin, Rolex Rankings No. 99, -3

Q.  Congratulations, great 3‑under par 69 today.  What really was the key to your round?
  Just a really good plan and I executed it well today.  So this course requires a lot of strategy, I think the layout is phenomenal and the way the officials set it up just complements that.  So I had a good plan with my caddie, Kyle, and we stuck to it and I was able to execute it very well, and then capitalize on some birdies.  So it was good.

Q.  Everybody's talked about Royal Birkdale being one of the toughest tests they have seen.  What is it about this golf course that you really enjoy?
  It really keeps you in the moment.  So every hole, every shot is its own test.  Like I mentioned before, it's designed so well, and I just think ‑‑ you just really have to have so much strategy.  I don't hit a lot of 3‑woods off the tee because I don't hit it very far, and I hit probably four 3‑woods today.  So that just tells you what all is out there.

Q.  We have seen a lot of different weather conditions.  It seemed to be more mild than we've seen.
Today the sun came out.  It was a bit chilly this morning and warmed up in a hurry.  It was probably max, the wind, I would say ten to 15 yards, or club, club and a half.  But it was a beautiful day here.

Q.  What do you like about having to think through shots and why putt on 18?
Well, it keeps you in the moment  and it's a challenge.  It's a fun challenge.  It's new.  We don't get to play courses like this very often, and the British Open is only once a year.

So it's kind of the epitome of that creativity.  I practised that shot in the practise round.  I hit a couple balls from there and it just rolls out so smoothly here.  Just said, hey, why not, let's have some fun with this.


Morgan Pressel, Rolex Rankings No. 41, -2

Q.  What was it like out there for you today?
Well, I think the conditions were certainly probably the easiest it will play all week, so I needed to get off to a good start and I did.
I managed to hit a lot of good shots in the fairway and keep the ball in front of me.  I made a couple of mistakes, and where I did, I made good putts for par.  So that was definitely helpful out there.
Got up‑and‑down on a couple tough bunker shots that ended up being tap‑ins, so I was happy that I made it look easier than it actually was.  I was a little disappointed with my last two holes because I had a five hybrid into 17 and a 6‑iron into 18, and parred both holes.
But come back tomorrow, maybe eagle them both.

Q.  And do you have to change your ‑‑ adjust your game plan this morning because the wind was so much less than it has been ‑‑ had been?
  There were a couple holes where I had to change that more off the tee, where I just changed different clubs that I was hitting.  We have the yardages as to how far we want it to go, but that's the thing about this golf course is whether the wind is up or from the left or from the right.  You never know, so every day, you could be playing a completely different golf course, and I think that's the unique thing about links golf is you're always going to end up with something unexpected and something that you didn't prepare for.

Q.  And you had the first round ‑‑ what is it about this tournament and getting off to a about start, how important is that to you?
I think it's a confidence builder for me.  I felt good coming into this tournament.  I felt good going into St. Andrews last year and finished with a very good tournament.  I'd like to do just a little bit better this year.

Q.  And what's your game plan going to be tomorrow?  Just depend on the condition?
My game plan ‑‑ no, my game plan is going to stay the same.  I'm just going to see what the course throws at me tomorrow and adjust my club selection accordingly.  But still, for the most part I want to play the golf course the same way and just stay out of a lot of trouble.

Q.  Finally, there's been a lot of talk about the heavy rough.  Were you able to stay out of it, and did you hit more drivers than you had planned on?
  I hit a lot less drivers than I had planned on actually.  I ended up only hitting maybe five or six drivers and a couple of them, I won't hit driver tomorrow if it's the same conditions.
So the rough is very, very thick.  I got into it twice ‑‑ two, three times today, and it didn't ‑‑ it wasn't very good for me.  I made some good putts, but it's thick and even beyond it being thick and challenging, it's challenging on your body, too.  That's kind of how I injured my wrist and arm in the first place.  So with the firm ground and the thick rough, I want to stay out of it as much as I can.

Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 1, -1

Q.        Great round today,71, what was working out there for you?
STACY LEWIS:  I just scrambled today.  I got the ball in the hole and that's what I said coming into the week I needed to do was just getting the ball in the hole.  I didn't hit it great but made some good up‑and‑downs and made a few putts which was nice.

Q.  And you were paired out there with Charley Hull and ` Uehara.  Do you feel like being No. 1, how well you're playing, you inspired them?
  I don't know.  I mean, they were fun to play with.  They both played really, really well today.  Ayako obviously put up a really good number.  She seems like she wasn't in trouble at all.  She was just greens, greens, center of the green every day.  You can kind of learn a little bit from that and maybe not go at so many pins.

Q.  We had some great weather and you're one of the few in shorts and a tee shirt.  Do you feel lucky that you missed some of the heavy winds that can come through?
  Yeah, you see that 6:52 tee time, and you're like, ah, because you have to wake up so early.  But once you get out here, it's a great time to have.  It's when the winds are the lightest and you can hopefully take advantage of the golf course a little bit.  But you know you're going to get some wind out here.  It's just the way it is.

Q.  How happy are you with your score heading into round two tomorrow.
  Very happy with it.  You can always do a couple shots better.  That's just golf for you.  Just happy to shoot something under par, be in the red numbers is a good place.


Holly Clyburn, Rolex Rankings No. 98, -1

Q.  Happy with your round today?
Yeah, I am, very happy, to go out there and shoot under par straight off is very nice, and lunch is going to take nice, so I'm happy.

Q.  How is the course playing?
  It's nice.  It's scorable today.  It's a nice little breeze out there, and I hit a lot of good shots and gave myself some opportunities.  The course is great.  So I'll be surprised if there wasn't be a really low one out there today.
But at the same time, we're, what, half an hour over time?  People are off‑target; that's it, you're looking for balls, and it's not just like, oh, it's here.  It's in deep.

Q.  Do you think you left any out there?
  No, not really.  I started bogey, bogey, but it's not really bogey, bogey.  I don't look at it like that.  I gave myself a lot of opportunities and a lot of just shaving the hole, and after how I've putted the past few weeks, I'm very happy.  I'm so much more confident over the ball and I'm happy to go out there and hole some putts.
I actually got unlucky on 2.  I caught the top of the bunker on my second shot and actually didn't go to the green.  It went the opposite way and the sand is really heavy.  I only just got it up‑and‑down and made a great five really, got me out of danger.

Q.  You must be aware it was a tough start ‑‑
Yeah, I hit a 3‑iron into the first and I absolutely crushed my drive.  I wouldn't say I'm a short hitter either.  A lot of people are going to be hitting woods in there and maybe coming off fours, but I would say it's going to be playing over par today.

Q.  What do you think will be a good score at the end of the day?
Well, 3‑under is leading at the moment, so I'd say 69 is probably a nice start.

Q.  How do you make your eagle?
Nice drive down the middle, hit 4‑iron in to about 15 foot and holed my putt down a left‑to‑right slicker actually.  I'd be happy to 2‑putt and walk off with birdie but took one and came off with eagle.  It was nice and just got the momentum going.  After that, I played great and holed some nice putts.

Q.  Did you like going in the first group?
It was lovely, didn't feel like it was 6:00 AM.

Q.  Had you played with Karrie?
  Really enjoyed it until she hit somebody in the face.  She handled it well.  I hope the guy is okay.  She hits it great and she also putts fantastic.  So it's lovely to watch somebody so great.

Charley Hull, Rolex Rankings No. 32, +1

Q.  What were you thinking walking to the third tee?
There's plenty of holes out there and then I got it back which I was quite happy with.  A bit of a low start this morning.  A shame to finish with bogey but it was a good bogey in the end.  From the middle part of my round I played really well.

Q.  What was the difference for you?
  The third hole, I hit a straight shot, straight on to the green and from interest I was pretty much flagging it.

Q.  Did you feel it was there for the taking in these conditions?
  Yeah, it is, but the first day of the British Open, I'm quite happy, you know, because I'm not usually very ‑‑ don't usually play very well on links golf so far in the British Open, so this is the right start, the way I'm hitting it, so I'm happy.

Q.  Why do you say you don't play well on links courses?
  No, I do play well but I don't play well in the British Open so far.  It's good for me to have this challenge and have the right mind‑set.

Q.  What do you think it is about the British Open that's held you back?
  Probably because everything is so flat, where like on tree‑lined golf courses, I can picture into it.  But I quite like it because it's a challenge.  Looking forward to tomorrow and hope I can hit it like I did in the middle part of my round today.
We both started with bogey and Stacy was 2‑over after three holes and I was 3‑over after three.  It was quite interesting and then we made a few birdies coming in.

Q.  How pleased are you?
Yeah, I feel like I played pretty ‑‑ I started double‑bogey and bogey, but it's a shame about my tee shot on the last.  That block just came out of the middle of nowhere, but I hit a good second drive and made a good up‑and‑down on last and pretty happy how I'm hitting it anyway.

Q.  Tell us about the first couple of holes, early start, perhaps too early?
  Yeah, just ‑‑ I don't know how I done it.  I just hit a shot out of the rough and second shot, hit that into the rough and made double‑bogey.  Not the end of the world, only first two holes.  I could make plenty of birdies.  I would rather have them at the start than at the end of my round because I can get them back after the golf course.

Q.  Did you say anything to yourself to regroup?
No, not really.  Just keep hitting it straight and I got back to level par.  Should have come in definitely way under par today but I'll take the positives.  I hit a good drive, well, second drive down the last.  The second one was terrible.  Hit a good 6‑iron in.  Just wrong club and hit a great up‑and‑down on the last.  Tricky up‑and‑down from that position.

Q.  Conditions better or worse than the afternoon?
I think it's going to probably pick up this afternoon but I'm not quite sure because we had it quite easy this morning, which was good ‑‑ well, not easy but the wind was playing good for us.

Q.  And looking ahead to the next three rounds, you put yourself in position now to really make a real go at the leaderboard over the next couple days?
  Yeah, for sure.  I can get a low one out tomorrow, just position it around this golf course and get a few putts to drop from the middle of greens.
I started double‑bogey and bogeyed the second hole, and then I hit it really well from there.  I had a lot of putts on the edge from birdie that just didn't drop, just lipped‑out, corner of the hole.  But then I played really well in.
And it's a shame about my tee shot on the last.  I blocked, come out of the middle of nowhere.  Hit it out‑of‑bounds and hit a great second drive and hit a good third shot, just wrong club and hit a great flop shot to get them down the last on bogey.  Shot 1‑over.  I'm happy with that.  I can take a lot of positives from my round.

Q.  There's been a lot of talk about the par 5s on the back nine, but it seems like the first few holes have been troubling players.  How has it been playing?
  Well, I don't know, I just think because it's kind of a tight tee shot the first hole, but it's not that tight, but it's just, you know, first tee shot can be a little bit nervy.

Q.  Where do you feel you are?
  I feel like I'm hitting it pretty well and rolling it okay, so I'm really looking forward to tomorrow.


Michelle Wie, Rolex Rankings No. 6, +3

Q.  So are you disappointed with the opening day or is there more out there that you can maybe change?
  I definitely felt like my tempo was a little bit off.  Felt really good coming in and I kind of went ‑‑ can we just play 18 more holes.  But it's been a long way until Sunday and I battled.  I battled out there.  I scrambled pretty good and hung in there.  Definitely not the score I was looking forward to on Thursday but it could have been a lot worse and I really hung in there today.

Q.  So if you lose your tempo, which is what you say happened, how do you get it back?  How to you re‑find the right tempo?
I just get a little bit too quick and especially just wasn't hitting it well and when you're starting not to hit it well, you start to get a little quick and I just kind of calmed myself down and tried to think slower.

Q.  What part of the game let you down?  That stinger shot has been so good this year.
Yeah, it was just off the tee.  I just hit a couple just off line.  It's not the widest of fairways out here and just a couple of bad bounces here and there, a couple of pot bunkers.  I just chipped out a little bit more than I wanted to today but I made some really good pars out there, made some good birdies.  Just felt like I could have made a lot more birdies out there but just didn't drop today.

Q.  What do you do for the next three days?
  Just going to do the same thing I did today.  Just go out there, tough golf course, it's been a long way till Sunday.  Par is a great score out there.  Birdies are great.  I'm just going to go out there and try to make as many pars and birdies as I can.

Q.  You said earlier in the week you wanted the wind to blow.  Are you hoping for tough conditions the next three days?
  I'm glad with anything.  It was a bit of a surprise how warm it is today.  It's actually quite pleasant out there.  It was really nice.  But I'll take whatever comes.  You can't really hope for one thing because the opposite will happen.  Like I said, I wanted wind, I got no wind.  The weather never listens.

Q.  You sound surprise that it's pleasant in England?
It's never pleasant over here, is it?  (Laughing).

Q.  How did you find the first round then today?
It was a battle out there.  I just played well.  I just wasn't so well off the tee and put myself in some really hard positions, but I'm proud of myself.  I really hung in there.  I just didn't give up until the end.  I scrambled pretty good today.  A lot of putts I felt like could have dropped in.
But you know, it was definitely a battle out there this morning.

Q.  Is it a course that if you're not hitting on to the greens, it can be a bit punishing, isn't it?
  It's really for me just off the tee.  Off the tee I was in a lot of pot bunkers.  A lot of shots I was chipping out.  I think I scrambled pretty well today and I'm pretty proud of how I finished, even though under the circumstances.

Q.  Hung in there, meaning keeping yourself an option for tomorrow?
  Yeah, you never know what happens out here.  It's been a long three more days out here.  There's a lot of golf to be played in the afternoon.  You know, there's some low scores posted this morning, but I just need to keep trying to make pars, make a couple more birdies and see what I can do.

Q.  Is there something special about this course?  Do you enjoy playing this course, today perhaps aside?
  I do.  I think it's a great course.  It's really challenging.  It's one of my favorite links golf courses.  I look forward to it.  I think it's a little special to me just because it was my first British Open golf course.
So it was definitely a lot of fun today.

Q.  Do you get a lot of support from the local crowd as well?
  Yeah, there was a good crowd out there today.

Q.  You left yourself some awkward distances; was that by design?
Yeah, I left myself short of those bunkers.  I didn't want to mess with those bunkers.  A couple of them they didn't quite turn out the way I wanted to.
Yeah, the par 5s, I just kind of played it a little bit safe.  On 17, a couple of shots just a bit unlucky the way it turned out.

Q.  The ball, was it releasing more than you thought it would?
  Early on it did.  It really did.  I think just practicing under the rain a couple days ago and ‑‑ I tried to get a feel for it.  It's so different from how it bounces over in the States, so I think it just takes a couple of tries to get used to it even though you try to get used to it in the practice round, it's still different once Thursday comes around.

Q.  A little softer in the practice round when you're playing?
  Yeah, I think so.

Q.  And you looked like you had a fairly conservative plan for the fives.
  Yeah, just I played it aggressively, I played not aggressively.  I just think playing conservatively, you leave yourself a 30‑yard chip or less, and I feel like you just give yourself more of an opportunity rather than going for it.
On a couple of the holes, if I hit driver going into the bunker, it just ‑‑ links golf is tricky because it can either be perfect, just ten yards short of the bunker or you can have a bad bounce and be 50 yards short of the bunker.  But I would rather be 50 yards short of the bunker than in the bunker.

Q.  What did you have on 6, beautiful tee shot right in the throat, what did you hit for your second, 5‑iron, 6‑iron?
  6‑iron.  See, that was another awkward distance for me.  I could have hit one more club, but it would have got really close to the bunker.  Like I said I would just rather be a little bit shorter and have a chip shot than mess with the bunker.

Q.  And going for the green, no?
  I just can't carry the bunker.  So it just would be landing it and be praying (laughing).  Thought I made a good game plan.  Just didn't hit good shots today.

Q.  And then 17, what did you lay up with there?
See, that was a perfect lay‑up, too.  That was a 6‑iron.

Q.  And to go for that green, you're trying ‑‑
I just can't carry that 30‑yard bunker that short of the green and stop it.  I saw what Sandra's ball did.  I thought I landed the chip shot perfectly.  I think if I tried to flop it, it wouldn't have stopped quicker than that.



Topics: Notes and Interviews, Lewis, Stacy, Pressel, Morgan, Martin, Mo, Uehara, Ayako, Ricoh Women's British Open [+]