Sizzling Lewis sets early pace at Pinehurst

Thu Jun 19, 2014 4:01pm EDT
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(Reuters) - World number one Stacy Lewis lived up to her lofty status by playing "easy" golf on a difficult layout to seize an early two-shot lead in the U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst in North Carolina on Thursday.

On a humid day at Pinehurst Resort where the temperature peaked at 93 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius), the 29-year-old American fired a flawless three-under-par 67 on the fabled No. 2 Course with its challenging turtle-back greens.

Lewis, bidding for a third major title, birdied the 14th, 16th and the eighth after starting her round at the par-five 10th to finish two strokes in front of Australian Katherine Kirk and South Korea's Ryu So-yeon.

Veteran Australian Karrie Webb, who won the 2001 U.S. Women's Open played at nearby Southern Pines, opened with a 70 while reigning champion Park Inbee of South Korea made a faltering start to her title defense, carding a 76.

Lewis, who clinched her first major title at the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship, was delighted with her form on a firm and fast-running course where only three players finished under par after last week's men's U.S. Open.

"I'm very happy," the 29-year-old from Ohio told reporters after taking control of the year's second women's major. "It was such an easy day. I played really, really solid.

"I didn't put myself in too bad of spots and made a few birdies, which was nice. I had a lot of tap-in pars. I wasn't struggling to make par all day.

"I was really hitting the shots I needed to hit. I was in control of how far I was hitting it. So that's what made it easy. The golf course wasn't easy, by any means. It's going to play hard the rest of the week."


Stacy Lewis of the U.S. tees off the fourth hole during the third round of the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic women's golf tournament at the Grey Silo course in Waterloo, June 7, 2014.    REUTERS/Mark Blinch