Challenging Conditions at AIG Women’s Open Sets Stage for Exciting Weekend, Rose Zhang Rebounded
Walton Heath Golf Club, the esteemed host of this year’s AIG Women’s Open, unveiled its relentless nature on Day One, pushing even the LPGA’s finest golf competitors to their limits. The course transformed into an unforgiving battleground, reminiscent of a U.S. Open rather than the traditional Open Championship.
Charley Hull, the English golfer who previously secured second place at the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open, affirmed the difficulty, asserting that any score under par on this course should be considered a notable accomplishment. Surprisingly, only 33 players managed to end the opening round in the red, with American standout Ally Ewing leading the pack at 4-under.
Among those who felt the course’s sting was Rose Zhang, who valiantly battled the challenging English layout and concluded the day with an even-par 72. Reflecting on her round, Zhang admitted, “It played a little bit difficult out there. I hit some good shots, I hit some good putts, but some of them did not drop. Out here, you just have to be patient. It’s a British Open golf course.”
Even Zhang’s missed putts included some relatively short ones, like the three-footer she missed for par at the par-4 13th hole, which resulted in a setback to 1-over for the championship. However, she demonstrated resilience and rebounded with a birdie on the demanding par-4 15th. The 18th hole proved to be another test for Zhang as her tee shot went wayward. Yet, a remarkable greenside bunker shot propelled her to an exceptional par save.
Anyone within six shots of the current leader, Ally Ewing, still has a chance to triumph during the weekend. This list includes Nelly Korda, the top-ranked player in the world, who finished the opening round at 1-over 73. Korda endured an up-and-down day, arriving at the par-3 17th hole with an even par score. However, a bogey-four marred her performance, with Korda ending the day with a par on the final hole.
Celine Boutier, the back-to-back winner of the previous two LPGA Tour events, had a challenging round. At one point, she found herself 4-over for the championship. Yet, the 2023 Amundi Evian Champion showcased her resilience and skill, birdieing both the par-5 16th and the par-3 17th to finish the day at 2-over.
With approximately 100 players positioned at 2-over or better after Day One, the tournament remains wide open as the field maintains contention. The leaderboard proves to be tightly bunched, setting the stage for enthralling drama to unfold over the weekend, a characteristic spectators have grown accustomed to at the AIG Women’s Open in recent years.
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