Ko Leads Qualifying at 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur August 5, 2012 By Rhonda Glenn, USGA

Lydia Ko (above) of New Zealand, has a two-stroke lead over 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior runner-up Alison Lee. (Steven Gibbons/USGA)

Cleveland – Lydia Ko, 15, of New Zealand, shot 6-under-par 66 to lead after the first round of stroke-play qualifying on Monday at the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at The Country Club.

Ko has a two-stroke lead over 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior runner-up Alison Lee, 17, of Valencia, Calif., and Hyo-Joo Kim, 17, of Korea, after the opening round over the 6,512-yard, par-72 course. Brooke Mackenzie Henderson, 14, of Canada, is at 3-under-par 69.

The 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play, with the championship scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Sunday at 8:30 a.m.

The U.S. Women’s Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

Ko, a Korean-born New Zealander, is the top-ranked player in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, co-conducted by the USGA and The R&A. Her record includes winning an Australian Tour event at the age of 14, as well as the 2012 Australian Women’s Amateur. She also finished as low amateur in the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open and reached the semifinals at the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior.

Starting on the outward nine, Ko began her good play on Monday with tap-in birdies at the 11th and 12th holes. That was nice, she said. I didn’t have to think about the line.

At the 13th she holed a 9-foot putt for a birdie, but then her birdies became more interesting. At the par-4 17th, she played a wedge from out of a divot to within 10 feet of the flagstick and made the birdie putt. At the par-5 second hole, Ko said she pured a 3-wood to within 6 feet on her second shot, then ran the eagle putt over the edge of the hole and settled for a birdie.

Finally, at the long and difficult par-4 seventh, Ko hit what she called a big 6-iron on her approach and the ball settled 25 feet from the hole. She banged the putt and her ball hit the hole, popped up, and fell in for her sixth birdie of the day.

I was lucky in a few positions, but I didn’t play well because I was lucky, Ko said. I hit the ball near the hole and that’s why I played well.

Ko’s 66 matches the round she shot last year as co-medalist and also matches the second-lowest score in Women’s Amateur history.

Lee is rebounding from a devastating loss at the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior in June, when she squandered a 3-up lead over Minjee Lee, of Australia, with just six holes to play, and lost, 1 up.

Lee got off to a fast start on Monday, sinking a 15-foot birdie putt on the first hole. A fine 5-iron approach to the par-3 fifth gave her another short birdie putt. At the seventh, she hit an 8-iron to within 35 feet of the hole and birdied. Using a 7-wood, Lee hit the green of the 453-yard, par-5 16th in two strokes and got down from 40 feet in two putts for a fourth birdie to finish at 68.

I learned a lot from losing at the Girls’ Junior, Lee said. I’ve been doing my best not to grind, just rest and keep my energy up. I was able to feel the greens today. I played really freely. My mom (Sung Kim) was on the bag. She’s calm, so I was just trying to have fun out there.

Kim finished fourth in the LPGA’s Evian Masters event two weeks ago and, like Ko, has won professional events, one each on the Japan LPGA Tour and Korean LPGA Tour. She will graduate from a foreign-language school in Korea next year. While this is her first USGA championship, she plans to turn pro in October.

I just want to enjoy myself (this week), Kim said through an interpreter. I’m really excited. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.

But Kim said her round of 68 was just so-so. She put herself in difficult situations on the first nine after making birdies on the first two holes, but battled back with three birdies on the inward nine for her 68.

The Women’s Amateur is only Kim’s second amateur match-play event. As a middle school student, she competed in a Korea vs. Japan match-play event and won the only match she played.

Henderson, like Ko and Kim, has fine credentials. Earlier this year she won a Canadian Women’s Professional Tour event, edging professional Lisa Ferrero, the 2000 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion. She jump-started her round of 69 with an eagle-2 on the 314-yard, par-4 third hole. From 70 yards, Henderson holed her 52-degree wedge shot and quickly went two under par.

I was happy when I saw it go in, said Henderson, a member of Team Canada’s developmental team. My sister, Brittany, was my caddie. She said, ‘Nice shot.’

A wedge to within seven feet of the hole at the par-5 eighth gave Henderson a second birdie. At the par-5 16th, she managed to 2-putt from 50 feet for a birdie. She birdied the 17th from 8 feet, but then stumbled to a bogey on the home hole.

Minjee Lee, of Australia, who won last month's Girls' Junior over Alison Lee, closed with two bogeys in her final three holes to return an even-par 72. Moriya Jutanugarn, of Thailand, the 2011 Women's Amateur runner-up, carded a 2-over 74, while her sister, Ariya Jutanugarn, the 2011 Girls' Junior champion, returned a 1-under 71.

Latanna Stone, the youngest competitor in championship history at 10 years old, opened with a 10-over 82.

Tiffany Lua, a member of the 2010 and 2012 USA Curtis Cup Teams, was forced to withdraw after 11 holes with a left-wrist injury.

Rhonda Glenn is a manager of communications of the USGA. Email her at rglenn@usga.org.

Cleveland – Results from Monday's opening round of stroke play at the 2012 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship, being conducted at the 6,512-yard, par-72 course at The Country Club:

Lydia Ko, New Zealand – 34-32–66
Alison Lee, Valencia, Calif. – 33-35–68
Hyo-Joo Kim, Korea – 35-33–68
Brooke Mackenzie Henderson, Canada – 34-35–69
McKenzie Neisen, New Prague, Minn. – 36-34–70
Austin Ernst, Seneca, S.C. – 36-34–70
Natalie Gleadall, Canada – 35-35–70
Alina Ching, Honolulu, Hawaii – 36-34–70
Kelly Shon, Port Washington, N.Y. – 34-36–70
Ariya Jutanugarn, Thailand – 34-37–71
Sarah Beth Davis, Victoria, Texas – 37-34–71
Ashlee Dewhurst, Australia – 36-35–71
Ashlan Ramsey, Milledgeville, Ga. – 35-36–71
Jenna Hague, Canada – 35-36–71
Breanna Elliott, Australia – 35-36–71
Emily Tubert, Burbank, Calif. – 38-34–72
Lauren Diaz-Yi, Thousand Oaks, Calif. – 38-34–72
Emily Childs, Alameda, Calif. – 36-36–72
Dottie Ardina, Philippines – 35-37–72
Marissa Dodd, Allen, Texas – 37-35–72
Diana Fernandez, Paraguay – 34-38–72
Erica Popson, Davenport, Fla. – 34-38–72
Samantha Swinehart, Lancaster, Ohio – 36-36–72
Elisabeth Bernabe, Anaheim Hills, Calif. – 39-33–72
Bethany Wu, Diamond Bar, Calif. – 37-35–72
Celine Boutier, France – 36-36–72
Chirapat Jao-Javanil, Thailand – 39-33–72
Sierra Brooks, Sorrento, Fla. – 36-36–72
Lisa McCloskey, Houston, Texas – 37-35–72
Minjee Lee, Australia – 37-35–72
Erynne Lee, Silverdale, Wash. – 36-36–72
Nicole Zhang, Canada – 37-36–73
Maia Schechter, Takoma Park, Md. – 37-36–73
Lee Lopez, Whittier, Calif. – 37-36–73
Jennifer Kirby, Canada – 36-37–73
Harin Lee, Bayside, N.Y. – 35-38–73
Yueer Feng, People's Republic of China – 36-37–73
Isabelle Lendl, Goshen, Conn. – 37-36–73
Jessica Vasilic, Anaheim Hills, Calif. – 35-38–73
Brogan McKinnon, Canada – 35-38–73
Whitney Hillier, Australia – 37-36–73
Stephanie Meadow, Northern Ireland – 38-35–73
Paula Reto, South Africa – 35-38–73
Jaye Marie Green, Boca Raton, Fla. – 35-38–73
Su-Hyun Oh, Australia – 36-37–73
Mathilda Poulsen, Australia – 38-35–73
Caroline Powers, Bowling Green, Ohio – 37-36–73
Jessica Negron, Ocala, Fla. – 38-36–74
Meghan Stasi, Oakland Park, Fla. – 36-38–74
Andrea Lee, Hermosa Beach, Calif. – 36-38–74
Marijosse Navarro, Mexico – 38-36–74
Margaret Shirley, Auburn, Ala. – 37-37–74
Maria Gabriela Lopez, Mexico – 38-36–74
Amy Anderson, Oxbow, N.D. – 38-36–74
Ellen Port, St. Louis, Mo. – 41-33–74
Emily Collins, Colleyville, Texas – 38-36–74
Jennifer Yang, Korea – 39-35–74
Seshia-Lei Telles, Tualatin, Ore. – 39-35–74
Casey Danielson, Osceola, Wis. – 35-39–74
Cyna Rodriguez, Philippines – 37-37–7
Moriya Jutanugarn, Thailand – 38-36–74
Grace Na, Alameda, Calif. – 37-38–75
Emilie Burger, Hoschton, Ga. – 38-37–75
Madeleine Sheils, Boise, Idaho – 37-38–75
Haley Millsap, Pace, Fla. – 39-36–75
Karen Chung, Livingston, N.J. – 36-39–75
Emma Talley, Princeton, Ky. – 40-35–75
Lauren Taylor, England – 38-37–75
Casey Grice, College Station, Texas – 37-38–75
Holly Clyburn, England – 38-37–75
Jaclyn Jansen, Effingham, Ill. – 38-37–75
Bronte Law, England – 39-36–75
Demi Frances Runas, Torrance, Calif. – 38-37–75
Abbey Carlson, Lake Mary, Fla. – 37-38–75
Liz Breed, Waynesboro, Pa. – 40-35–75
Jade Staggs, Oklahoma City, Okla. – 38-38–76
Kaew Preamchuen, Kennesaw, Ga. – 38-38–76
Jayvie Marie Agojo, Philippines – 39-37–76
Kendall Prince, Lake Oswego, Ore. – 37-39–76
Allie Knight, Knoxville, Tenn. – 41-35–76
Christine Lin, Austin, Texas – 41-35–76
Amy Meier, Rochester Hills, Mich. – 37-39–76
Megan Khang, Rockland, Mass. – 39-37–76
Sarah Schmelzel, Phoenix, Ariz. – 40-37–77
Jenny Hahn, Henderson, Nev. – 39-38–77
Rika Park, Japan – 39-38–77
Breanna Patz, Plainfield, Ind. – 40-37–77
Kristina Merkle, Honolulu, Hawaii – 40-37–77
Brittany Marchand, Canada – 39-38–77
Minjia Luo, People's Republic of China – 39-38–77
Kendall Martindale, Jefferson City, Tenn. – 41-36–77
Kacie Komoto, Honolulu, Hawaii – 36-41–77
Christine Wong, Canada – 39-38–77
Melissa Edmonson, Coral Gables, Fla. – 41-36–77
Euna Pak, Irvine, Calif. – 40-37–77
Elise Bradley, Mandeville, La. – 39-39–78
Carly Childs, Alameda, Calif. – 38-40–78
Lauren Falley, Topeka, Kan. – 39-39–78
Alexandra Papell, Boca Raton, Fla. – 38-40–78
Clare Sorensen, Roseville, Calif. – 39-39–78
Steffi Neisen, New Prague, Minn. – 38-40–78
Candice Wiley, Shelbyville, Ky. – 40-38–78
Tatiana Wijaya, Indonesia – 36-42–78
Samantha Gotcher, Clarksville, Tenn. – 37-41–78
Cali Hipp, Caldwell, Idaho – 39-39–78
Isabelle Boineau, France – 40-38–78
Daniela Ortiz, Mexico – 40-38–78
Stephanie Miller, Wauconda, Ill. – 38-40–78
Beverly Mendoza, Philippines – 39-39–78
Chelsea Mocio, Fort Worth, Texas – 37-41–78
Ani Gulugian, Irvine, Calif. – 41-37–78
Meghan Moore, Bahama, N.C. – 41-37–78
Emily Ransone, Hilliard, Ohio – 42-37–79
Stephanie Arcala, Oceanside, Calif. – 38-41–79
Meghan Potee, Noblesville, Ind. – 41-38–79
Amy Beth Simanton, Lake Oswego, Ore. – 42-37–79
Sierra Sims, Austin, Texas – 38-41–79
Sadena Parks, Scottsdale, Ariz. – 38-41–79
Courtney Gunter, Matthews, N.C. – 39-40–79
Ally McDonald, Fulton, Miss. – 39-41–80
Alex Carl, Union, Ky. – 41-39–80
Grace Lennon, Australia – 43-37–80
Erin Ahern, Hinsdale, Ill. – 41-39–80
Katie Petrino, Fayetteville, Ark. – 40-40–80
Mina Hardin, Fort Worth, Texas – 42-38–80
Cherokee Kim, Dupont, Wash. – 40-40–80
Laura Wearn, Charlotte, N.C. – 40-40–80
Brenda Pictor, Marietta, Ga. – 41-39–80
Jennifer Hirano, Pinole, Calif. – 41-39–80
Corey Crossan, Canada – 40-40–80
Courtney Soekland, Santa Rosa, Calif. – 42-38–80
Lauren English, Bloomington, Ill. – 40-40–80
Mariana Sims, Austin, Texas – 40-41–81
Rachael Pruett, Linton, Ind. – 41-40–81
Andrea Kraus, Baltimore, Md. – 41-40–81
Lauren Smith, Macon, Ga. – 40-41–81
Anna Young, Canada – 40-41–81
Caitlin McCleary, The Dalles, Ore. – 44-37–81
Lindsey McPherson, Flushing, Mich. – 48-34–82
Sally Watson, Scotland – 41-41–82
Susan Kirschenman, Huxley, Iowa – 40-42–82
Latanna Stone, Valrico, Fla. – 41-41–82
Lucy Nunn, Lexington, Ky. – 41-41–82
Julie Carmichael, Indianapolis, Ind. – 41-42–83
Natalie Reeves, Euless, Texas – 41-42–83
Alessandra Kutz, Sanford, Fla. – 44-39–83
Kendall Dusenberry, Newhall, Calif. – 40-43–83
Martha Leach, Hebron, Ky. – 42-41–83
Ariel Tidwell, Allen, Texas – 38-46–84
Abby Newton, Katy, Texas – 48-37–85
Annie Dulman, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. – 42-43–85
Sarah Sideranko, New Britain, Conn. – 39-46–85
Catherine O'Donnell, Ponte Vedra, Fla. – 44-41–85
Laura Sanchez Zuluaga, Colombia – 45-41–86
Evelyn Dole, Raleigh, N.C. – 43-46–89
Tiffany Lua, Rowland Heights, Calif. – NC