Sizzling Lewis sets early pace at Pinehurst
(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."