Jutanugarn and Lee among US Women’s Open leaders

A lack of practice rounds was no barrier to Ariya Jutanugarn and Sarah Jane Smith, as they earned a share of the lead at the US Women’s Open.

Torrential rain at Alabama’s Shoal Creek course had prevented both Jutanugarn and Smith from completing 18 practice holes before the opening day, but both shot five under rounds of 67 to join South Korea’s Lee Jeong-eun in setting the pace.

After winning the LPGA Kingsmill Championship a fortnight ago, Jutanugarn was clearly full of confidence after sinking five birdies and an eagle, albeit her scorecard was slightly spoiled by a pair of bogeys.

“My game has been improving every week because I work so hard with my short game. The last few months I have been playing pretty good,” she said.

Smith joined her in top spot after her round included an eagle from 87 yards on the par five 11th, while Lee enjoyed five birdies in a blemish free round. Both are looking for their first LPGA Tour win.

“My main strategy today was not to have a bogey and I think that worked and also when I went to a more difficult situation I try not to get into trouble,” said Lee.

The three leaders boast a two-shot advantage from the quartet of former winner Michelle Wie, Danielle Kang, Ji-Hyun Kim and Linn Grant.