Two South Koreans Take Lead in Women's British Open

Haeji Kang and So Yeon Ryu carded 2-under 70s to share the first-round lead in the Women's British Open. The $2.75 million LPGA Tour major started Thursday at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

The 21-year-old Kang carded six birdies, two bogeys and a double on the par-4 eighth hole, while her South Korean countrywoman Ryu posted five birdies and three bogeys. Kang is looking for her first LPGA victory, while Ryu has two titles, including a major in the 2011 U.S. Women's Open.

"I hit it pretty good out there," said Kang. "Managed to put my approach shots to the greens within 20 feet all the time."

Ryu, playing in her first British Women's Open, said she received considerable assistance in the opening round from her caddie. "He helped me a lot," she said. "My putting was great. So I'm really happy with my game today."

Nine players carded 71s. The group included two Australians - Stacey Keating and Karrie Webb; two Japanese - Mika and Ai Miyazato (no relation); a pair of Americans - Vicky Hurst and Katie Futcher; England's Charley Hull, a 16-year-old amateur; Lydia Hall of Wales; and South Korean Jiyai Shin, who won last week's Kingsmill Championship in an epic nine-hole sudden-death playoff against Paula Creamer that ended on Monday.

Among the 17 players shooting even-par 72 were two-time Women's British Open champion Yani Tseng; Americans Morgan Pressel, Cristie Kerr and Angela Stanford; and 15-year-old New Zealand amateur, Lydia Ko, who two weeks after winning the 2012 U.S. Women's Amateur in August became the youngest LPGA winner in the Canadian Women's Open.

Tseng, who began the 2012 season in red-hot fashion with three victories in the first two months, has struggled of late. Still ranked No. 1 in the world, the 23-year-old from Taiwan is hoping to resurrect her season with a third consecutive victory in the Women's British Open.

"You always feel you left something out there, but I'm still very happy with the way I played," said Tseng, who had four birdies, two bogeys and a double on the par-4 11th hole to reach level-par. "I'm hitting so many good shots out there but it's a major and you just have to be patient. This is a tough golf course."

The wind was relatively mild in the morning before it picked up in the afternoon, creating difficult conditions at the historic course.

"Today was probably the easiest it'll ever play," Ko noted. "I think this is one of the hardest golf courses I've ever played. Shooting even-par, it's not a bad round and I think it's a pretty good start."

Creamer was in a big group that posted 1-over 73s. Also at that number were fellow Yanks Natalie Gulbis and Brittany Lincicome. Americans Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson posted 74s, while Michelle Wie opened with a 75.

"I played really well all day and hit a lot of great shots," said Creamer, who had to fly to England from Kingsmill Resort in Virginia a day later than expected after her playoff with Shin. "I just had seven three-putts or something, missed a lot of short putts - birdie opportunities."

Other scores included an 82 by Brittany Lang, a 79 by Juli Inkster and an 81 by Germany's Sandra Gal. Laura Davies opened with an 80; the 48-year-old Brit won the championship in 1986 before it became a major.

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