LOS ANGELES • It was hard to tell that Hinako Shibuno was in control halfway through the 75th US Women’s Open on Friday.
“I feel like I’m not confident at all,” the Japanese said. “I feel like I am not myself.”
The 22-year-old’s results and game told a different story. Her four-under 67 at Champions Golf Club in Houston gave her a total of seven-under 135, good for a three-stroke lead over Swedish amateur Linn Grant (69).
Shibuno, last year’s British Open champion, made four birdies on the back nine, recovering from two bogeys on the Jackrabbit course, one of two layouts used due to diminished daylight hours.
“Today my tee shots found the rough more often. However, my second shots were pretty stable and (I was able to make pars),” said the Okayama native, who won four times last year on the Japan LPGA Tour. “My golf today was pretty safe, stable condition. At the same time, when it comes to the chance for a birdie, my putting was good.”
Grant, one of six amateurs to make the cut at the year’s final Major, credits her father – a former college player-turned-instructor who is caddying for her this week – with helping her develop her short game.
“He keeps me calm on the golf course,” the 21-year-old said. “We know how we work together. So right now he’s just security.”
American Amy Olson ceded her first-round lead after a trio of bogeys and a double-bogey saw her card a one-over 72, finishing her round tied for third with compatriots Kaitlyn Papp (68) and Megan Khang (69).
Two-time Major winner Cristie Kerr enjoyed a bogey-free two-under 69 at Cypress Creek despite playing through pain from a recent golf cart collision that left her with dislocated ribs.
“I played just pretty solid golf until the last five holes when my rib and my lat and everything back here just started really killing me,” said the American, who was tied for sixth (140).
World No. 2 Kim Sei-young was in a pack sharing 14th on 141 after a 69 while fellow South Korean, the top-ranked Ko Jin-young (70), shared 29th on 143.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
US WOMEN’S OPEN
Round 4: Singtel TV Ch115 & StarHub Ch209, 11.55pm