Australia’s Minjee Lee has continued her dalliance with links golf, snatching the opening-round lead in the Ricoh Women’s British Open with a seven-under 65 at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Meanwhile, Michelle Wie bowed out on Thursday, citing a hand issue as the reason for the WD.
Following a runner-up finish at last week’s Ladies Scottish Open, Lee rattled off six birdies and an eagle around the Lancashire links. She reached eight-under par before dropping her only stroke of the day at the par-4 17th.
While players with morning tee-times battled rain, Lee took advantage of near windless conditions in the afternoon. The West Australian hit 15 greens in regulation and needed 26 putts for the round. The highlight was holing a lengthy eagle putt on the par-5 15th.
“I think everybody’s going to be happy with like a 20-footer on every hole if they could have it,” Lee said after the round. “I managed to hole a couple of long putts, so that really helped me with my round today.”
Japan’s Mamiko Higa shot a six-under 66 to be outright second and one stroke clear of five players at five under.
New Zealand’s Lydia Ko is three strokes back after carding a four-under 68. New world No.1 Ariya Jutanugarn, who defeated Lee last week in Scotland, carded a one-under 71.
Wie’s ailment is one the American star has been battling all year. But she says it’s reached a point where she needs to take time off to deal with the matter.
“I have been doing everything humanly possible (besides giving it proper rest) this past couple of weeks to get my hand healthy enough to play this event, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough,” Wie said in a statement. “I gave it my all today but I just couldn’t handle the pain any longer. I’m devastated that I had to withdraw mid-round, but I felt that if I kept pushing through the pain, I would have injured my hand further.
“I am confident that with the right treatment, I will be back stronger than ever. Will keep you guys posted on my prognosis/recovery. Thank you for all your kind messages and support. It’s been really tough, but your unwavering support always puts a smile on my face.”
At the time of her exit the former US Open champ was at the bottom of the leaderboard at seven over, which included a triple-bogey at the par-5 seventh.
The 28-year-old Wie, who finished T-3 at last year’s Open, is currently 18th in the Rolex Rankings.