LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) — Veteran Karrie Webb and second-year LPGA Tour player Marina Alex each shot a 4-under 66 Thursday to share the early lead on a wet and windblown first day at the U.S. Women’s Open.
The 40-year-old Webb reeled off four birdies on her second nine holes, while Alex birdied three of her last five before the first round was suspended. An early-evening storm packing strong winds, lightning and heavy rain pounded Lancaster Country Club.
The stoppage came with 55 golfers still on the course. The USGA’s plan is to complete the first round early Friday and then start the second.
Amy Yang, who played in the morning, was in the clubhouse a shot behind the leaders. Two players on the course were also at 3 under. Na Yeon Choi, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, had three holes to play, while Jane Park had five.
Top-ranked Inbee Park birdied two of her last three holes before play was stopped and was at 2 under through 14. Morgan Pressel and six other morning starters shot a 2-under 68.
But the best performances on the opening day were Webb, a veteran accustomed to the pressures of major championship competition, and Alex, a youngster struggling to get comfortable with swing changes.
Webb’s late push helped her finish with her first round in the 60s in a U.S. Open since 2001, when the Australian won her second straight title at the tournament.
The seven-time major champ opened on the back nine and ran off 10 straight pars before making her move on the front side with birdies at the second, fourth, sixth and eighth holes on the hilly fairways and sloping greens in Lancaster.
This season has been a struggle for Webb, who has three top-10 finishes in 14 starts. But on Thursday, she hit 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens.
“It’s been a test of my patience. I feel like I’ve had some good golf in me,” Webb said.
“What’s really pleasing is to play like this, because I know that I’ve worked really hard and the swing is starting to be a little more automatic,” she said.
Alex, playing in her second U.S. Open and first since 2009, was a surprise finisher atop the leaderboard early Thursday. The 24-year-old from Wayne, New Jersey, is in her second season on the LPGA Tour and went five straight weeks without making a cut. Her best finish this year was a tie for ninth in Arkansas.
She had been working on swing changes before the tournament, and it all came together with the late birdie binge, also on the front side.
Alex was an amateur when she played in her first U.S. Open.
“I qualified like the last spot on my sectional,” she said. “My game then and now is not even remotely the same. I was a nervous kid, pretty much.”
On Thursday, she embraced the championship atmosphere and cheering crowds.
“I’m not a front-runner for this tournament, really,” she said. “So I’m just going to go out there and have fun tomorrow with my caddie and just keep doing the things that we’ve been doing and just see where that puts me.”
Stacey Lewis, who finished second last year, shot a 69, while Lydia Ko opened with 70, and defending champion Michelle Wie, slowed by injury and illness this season, shot a 2-over 72.
Jimin Kang withdrew after 16 holes, citing illness.