Highlights from Thursday at the U.S Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club

LANCASTER — Low scores were hard to come by as the action kicked off on the first day of the U.S Women’s Open on Thursday at Lancaster Country Club.

2021 champion Yuka Saso, a 22-year-old native of the Philippines, had the low score of the day at 2-under 68 after making five birdies and three bogeys.

Yuka Saso plays a shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the 2024 U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club in Lancaster, Pa. on Thursday, May 30, 2024. (Chris Keane/USGA)

“It always feels good to be back and seeing familiar faces,” Saso told the USGA following her round. “But it’s a U.S. Open. It’s a major. It’s the biggest major championship, and I think it’s one of the most difficult weeks that we’ll play in a year.”

Saso shot a 1-under 34 on the front nine going out with two bogeys. She birdied the 380-yard, par 4 second, the 353-yard, par-4 fourth and the 513-yard, par-5 seventh on the front nine.

On the back, Saso went on a roll down the stretch, birdieing the 421-yard par-4 15th and the 340-yard, par 4 16th, before closing out the day with a bogey on the 434-yard, par 4 18th.

Saso had 13 feet left for par on the 18th after chipping on from the fringe with her third shot, but her attempt curled just right of the hole, 14 inches away.

“I made really good putts,” Saso said. “I think I was more lucky than playing good. I think I had a few very long par putts in the first few holes, as well. I think I was just very lucky, and I was able to have fun out there with Hannah and Brooke.”

Only three other golfers finished with scores under par. Andrea Lee, Wichanee Meechai and Adela Cernousek, an amaetur, all finished 1-under 69.

10 golfers sit tied for fifth at even-par 70, including 15-year-old Asterisk Talley and 2022 champion Minjee Lee from Australia.

Lee had five birdies on the day and shot a 1-under 34 with three birdies and two bogeys on the front nine going out. She shot a 1-over 36 with three bogeys and two birdies on the back nine coming in.

Minjee Lee waves to the crowd after making par on the 12th hole during the first round of the 2024 U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club in Lancaster, Pa. on Thursday, May 30, 2024. (Chris Keane/USGA)

“I think I still gave myself really great opportunities for birdie,” Lee said. “The birdies that I had were, a couple of them were short, like four or five feet, and some were maybe like 12 to 15 feet.

“I still had good looks when I had birdies, so I was kind of back and forth with my bogeys and my birdies.”

Nelly Korda, the top-ranked golfer on the LPGA tour and heavy favorite heading into the tournament had a round to forget, as the 25-year-old shot a 10-under, 80.

Nelly Korda reacts after playing her sixth shot on the 12th hole during the first round of the 2024 U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club in Lancaster, Pa. on Thursday, May 30, 2024. (Chris Keane/USGA)

Korda had an unfortunate spell on the 161-yard, par-3 12th and finished the hole with a 10 after hitting into the creek that divides the fairway from the green on three separate occasions.

Her initial shot found the sand behind the green, before her approach bounced and took a fast roll off the green and down into the creek.

Her fourth stroke taken from the drop area found the creek once again, as Korda attempted to chip back on from the fairway on the opposite side. She would repeat the shot on the next attempt before getting over and on the green with her eighth stroke.

“Not a lot of positive thoughts, honestly,” Korda said. “Just honestly, I just didn’t play well today. I didn’t hit it good. I found myself in the rough a lot. Making a 10 on a par-3 will definitely not do you any good at a U.S. Open.

“I kind of teed it up behind the tee box a little one club length back. I hit a 6-iron and it just kind of penetrated through the wind and it went into the back bunker.

“I kind of had a leaf under my ball, so when I hit it kind of rocketed through. Couldn’t really do anything about that. Yeah, just hit some really bad chips over and over again.”

Korda finished with an even par 35 on the front nine coming in.

2023 champion Allisen Corpuz finished with a 5-over 75, good enough to be tied at 70th. Corpuz shot a 1-over 36 on the front nine going out with two birdies and three bogeys.

Allisen Corpuz at the 2024 U.S Women’s Open Media Day. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

The tantalizing 12th hole also proved troublesome for Corpuz, as the 26-year-old hit a triple bogey on the hole before bogeying on the 16th.

“Made a few really good putts out there,” Corpuz said. “Hit the ball pretty solid the whole day. Just kind of misclubbed on 12 and made a mess out of it. Overall, felt like I played pretty solid.

“I felt like I was just in between clubs (6 and 7 iron) off the tee and obviously can’t miss short, so I took the longer one and just bounced through the green a little.

“Got caught up against the rough and tried to chip it. Just didn’t think I could get a putter on it. Unfortunately bladed it into the water from there and didn’t make the up and down for double.”

Playing in the marquee group of the afternoon, 29-year old Lexi Thompson, an 11-time winner on the LPGA Tour who announced on Tuesday that this season would be her final on tour, finished the day with an 8-over 78. Thompson played her first U.S Women’s Open when she was 12 in 2007 and at the time was the youngest to ever qualify.

Lexi Thompson at the 2024 U.S Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

Thompson’s playing partner, Rose Zhang, who won the 2022 and 2023 NCAA Division I championships, ended the day with a 9-over 79.

Rose Zhang teeing off at No. 1 at Lancaster Country Club on Thursday at the 2024 U.S Women’s Open. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)