Ladies European Tour
Aug 5th, 2022
Hinako Shibuno leads AIG Women's Open
2019 champion leads by one shot at Muirfield
Shibuno, known as the ‘Smiling Cinderella’ after picking up the nickname following her triumph at Woburn three years ago, opened with an impressive six-under-par 65 to set the early pace.
With the morning starters enjoying warm and breezy conditions – the wind gusted stronger for the afternoon players – Shibuno birdied the first three holes. In total, the 23-year-old mixed eight birdies with only two bogeys to earn a one-shot advantage over American Jessica Korda.
“It has been a long time since I've played this well, especially putting. Honestly it was a little frightening!" said Shibuno.
“Two years ago, when we were playing at the Royal Troon, the wind completely over took my shots. I wasn't thinking about how to use this to my advantage. However, at this tournament I could adapt my style to the elements. It was nostalgic to be on the top.”
While missing some lost luggage this week, Korda kept her composure. Placed 14th on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Korda, 29, posted an excellent 66 highlighted by an eagle at the par-5 17th.
Two players sit at four-under-par, including newly-turned professional Louise Duncan who rolled back the clock to her exploits at Carnoustie last year when she posted a top-ten finish to win the Smyth Salver as the leading amateur.
In the first group out at 6.30am – together with fellow Scot Catriona Matthew who struck the opening tee shot – Duncan was the early leader after two birdies in her first five holes. The 22-year-old thrilled the home crowds once more, also making an eagle on the 17th, as she signed for a 67.
Mexico’s Gaby Lopez joined Duncan on four-under later in the day, helped by three birdies in five holes from the 10th. A five-strong group are well-placed at three-under-par, featuring Swede Maja Stark, In Gee Chun from Korea, France’s Celine Boutier, Australian Minjee Lee and England's Jodi Ewart Shadoff.
Among the international field of 144 players, past winners Inbee Park (2015) and Georgia Hall (2018) posted rounds of 69 and 70, respectively. Defending champion Anna Nordqvist finished on three-over-par after a 74.