LPGA Tour News: Hinako Shibuno leads 2022 AIG Women’s Open – First-Round

AIG Women’s Open

Muirfield | Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland | Aug. 4-7, 2022

First-Round Notes

Aug. 4, 2022

Course Setup: 35-36—71, 6,510 yards (Scoring Averages: R1, 73.61)

Weather: Early rain giving way to mostly sunny skies, with highs in the mid-60s; winds from the west at 12-16 mph, with gusts of 18-22 mph and isolated afternoon gusts to 25 mph

Leaderboard

Hinako Shibuno IN 2019 at Taiwan Swinging Skirt LPGA at Miramar Golf Country Club. By S22311275 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https commons.wikimedia.org

HINAKO SHIBUNO ATOP AIG WOMEN’S OPEN LEADERBOARD THROUGH 18 HOLES

After morning rain gave way to spectacularly blue Scottish skies, Hinako Shibuno again proved her major prowess at the AIG Women’s Open. The 23-year-old Japanese superstar, who won the 2019 AIG Women’s Open, carded a 6-under 65 in the opening round of the 2022 championship, being held for the first time at the famed Muirfield.

“It has been a long time since I’ve played this well, especially putting,” said Shibuno, now a rookie on the LPGA Tour after spending three years on the JLPGA Tour. “Honestly it was a little frightening.”

Shibuno’s 65, tied for the second-lowest opening round in AIG Women’s Open history, featured three consecutive birdies to open the day. It was also one shot better than her first-round performance in 2019 at Woburn, a traditional parkland-style course. Faced with this year’s classic Muirfield layout, Shibuno was very proud of how she adapted her game to meet the elements and unconventional play required on a links course.

“Two years ago, when we were playing at Royal Troon, the wind completely over took my shots. I wasn’t thinking about how to use this to my advantage,” said Shibuno. “However, this tournament I could adapt my style to the elements. I imagined my swing. If the wind was coming from the right, I could play by feel how far from the pin I needed to aim for.”

American Jessica Korda holds solo second after a 5-under 66, just the second round in the 60s of her 11 AIG Women’s Open appearances. It is also her lowest 18 holes since a second-round 65 at the 2021 DIO Implant LA Open. “There’s so much going on on the golf course with the crosswinds, trying to figure out where you want to land the ball,” said Korda, who played wearing a Muirfield hat and borrowed pants with her luggage stuck in Zurich. “It’s nice, at the end I looked at the leaderboard but to be honest I was zoned in to what was going on. You have to stay on it here at all times.”

Gaby Lopez and Louise Duncan, who tied for 10th as an amateur in 2021 and turned professional two weeks ago, sit tied for third at -4, while five players – including 2022 major champions In Gee Chun and Minjee Lee – are tied for fifth at -3. Lee continued her streak of major success, now a combined 58-under par since the 2021 Amundi Evian Championship, 22 strokes better than her nearest competitor.

2021 AIG Women’s Open champion Anna Nordqvist opened her title defense with a 3-over 74 and is tied for 74th. Rolex Rankings World No. 1 Jin Young Ko shot a 5-over 76 and is tied for 103rd.

JESSICA KORDA “IN THE ZONE” EN ROUTE TO FIRST-ROUND 66 AT MUIRFIELD

Jessica Korda isn’t ignoring leaderboards on purpose. Inside the ropes, she said she’s just putting her sole focus on getting around Muirfield as low as possible, and did an impressive job of it during the first round of the AIG Women’s Open. Korda carded a 5-under 66, the lowest 18 holes she’s ever recorded in 10 previous appearances in the major, and currently sits in solo second heading into Friday.

“There’s so much going on on the golf course with the crosswinds, trying to figure out where you want to land the ball. It’s nice, at the end I looked at the leaderboard but to be honest I was zoned in to what was going on,” said Korda, whose round included four birdies and an eagle from the rough on No. 17. “You have to stay on it here at all times.”

Outside the ropes, part of her focus has been on one particular issue – getting her luggage back. Korda has been able to track the location via Apple AirTags but is resigned to the fact that she may not see her packed clothing for the rest of the week. “Monday, I wore Megan Khang’s pants. Tuesday, I wore my sister’s pants and Wednesday, I wore Alison Lee’s pants,” said Korda. “Today, I’m wearing FootJoy pants.”

Despite the suitcase predicament, the six-time LPGA Tour winner is still eyeing her first major title since becoming a rookie in 2011. Korda’s best finish in the major is a tie for fifth in 2014, and since withdrawing from the championship in 2017 due to injury, she’s yet to break anything past a tie for 42nd. Along with the T5 finish at Royal Birkdale, Korda’s earned eight top-10 finishes in majors, including a career-best second at this year’s Chevron Championship, but links golf provides its own set of pressures and challenges that Korda is hoping to rise to the occasion for this week.

“There’s a lot of trust in my golf game,” said Korda. “Almost like being willing to fail on every single shot, it’s pretty tough but fun to be able to see the ball do things that you normally don’t see it do.”

LOUISE DUNCAN AGAIN OFF TO FLYING START AT AIG WOMEN’S OPEN

In 2021, Scotland’s Louise Duncan thrilled home fans with her tie for 10th as an amateur at the AIG Women’s Open, sitting one stroke off the lead through 18 holes at Carnoustie and playing in the third-to-last group on Sunday.

Flash forward to 2022 and Duncan is again making noise at the AIG Women’s Open. The 22-year-old made her professional debut last week, missing the cut at the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open. But she seemed to save her early-career fireworks for her first round at Muirfield. Playing in the opening group alongside Scottish legend and fellow University of Stirling alumna Catriona Matthew, Duncan fired a 4-under 67, highlighted by an eagle at the par-5 17th, and is tied for fourth.

“I’ve kind of been struggling with the driver recently. I got a new head in it and that seemed to have sorted the lefts and the rights,” said Duncan, who had a 4:30 a.m. alarm ahead of her 6:30 a.m. tee time. “Yeah, really happy with driver. Just overall really happy with my game. Hit loads of greens. I hit loads of great putts and I stayed patient as well which led to holing a putt on 17. So yeah, it was a good day.”

Last week’s missed cut at Dundonald Links, just 15 miles from Duncan’s West Kilbride home, definitely stung. She said that she felt she played OK, but the result didn’t show in her scores. Nevertheless, playing as a newly minted professional hasn’t changed her game plan as she tees it up as one of the world’s best female golfers.

“It doesn’t really feel that different. Still the same game. I’ve been asked this question loads,” said Duncan. “Like I said yesterday, I haven’t had a paycheck and still feel like I’m an amateur. Yeah, I’m rolling with the punches and see where it takes me.”

ROLEX RANKINGS WORLD NO. 1 PROJECTIONS

Minjee Lee and Nelly Korda have an opportunity to move to Rolex Rankings World No. 1 based on their finishes at the AIG Women’s Open.

World No. 2 Minjee Lee

  • Win and have Jin Young Ko finish solo fourth or worse
  • Solo second and have Jin Young Ko finish solo 54th or worse and Nelly Korda finish solo third or worse

World No. 3 Nelly Korda

  • Win and have Jin Young Ko finish solo third or worse
  • Solo second and have Jin Young Ko finish solo 21st or worse and Minjee Lee finish solo third or worse

NOTE – There may be additional possibilities with tie scenarios and separate projection scenarios would need to be run to check. 

KPMG PERFORMANCE INSIGHTS – FIRST ROUND OF THE AIG WOMEN’S OPEN

Thursday’s 65 is the lowest score Hinako Shibuno has ever recorded in her major championship career. When she won the 2019 AIG Women’s Open, she started the week with 66.

Minjee Lee is now a combined 58-under-par in the majors since the Amundi 2021 Evian Championship began. That is 22 strokes better in relation to par than anyone else.

Jessica Korda is one of just five players this season averaging 0.7 strokes gained ball striking and 0.7 strokes gained putting per round. She opened with 66 today at the AIG Women’s Open.

PLAYER NOTES

Rolex Rankings No. 41 Hinako Shibuno (65)

  • She hit 12 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens, with 28 putts
  • Shibuno’s 65 is her lowest 18-hole score since the 2021 Pure Silk Championship, where she recorded a career-best 64 in the third round
  • It’s the lowest first-round score of her LPGA Tour career, and is the second-lowest first-round score in AIG Women’s Open history since the championship became a major
  • This is Shibuno’s rookie season on Tour; she has made seven cuts in 13 events, and has earned two top-four finishes (second, LOTTE Championship; T4, the Chevron Championship)
  • This is her second appearance at the AIG Women’s Open; she won the event in 2019, her first start out of her native Japan, and was the 10th player in the championship’s history to make it her maiden major title
  • Shibuno has earned six wins on the JLPGA Tour
  • Nicknamed the “Smiling Cinderella”

Rolex Rankings No. 14 Jessica Korda (66)

  • She hit six of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, with 29 putts
  • Korda’s 66 is her lowest 18-hole score in an LPGA Tour event since a 64 in the first round of the 2021 DIO Implant LA Open
  • It is the lowest 18-hole score she’s ever recorded at the AIG Women’s Open
  • This is Korda’s 12th season on the LPGA Tour; she is a six-time winner, her most recent from the 2021 Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions
  • This is her 11th event of the 2022 Tour season; she’s made nine cuts, with a season-best second-place result at The Chevron Championship
  • This is Korda’s 11th appearance in the AIG Women’s Open; she’s recorded one top-five finish, a tie for fifth in 2014
  • She represented the United States at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, finishing T15
  • Korda is a three-time member of the U.S. Solheim Cup Team (2013, 2019 and 2021)
  • She earned the 2018 Heather Farr Perseverance Award for her comeback from major jaw surgery
  • Her parents, Petr Korda and Regina Rajchrtová, were international tennis stars; Petr won the 1998 Australian Open and Regina represented the former Czechoslovakia at the 1988 Seoul Olympics
  • Korda’s brother, Sebastian, is a professional tennis player, and has earned one victory on the ATP Tour

SOCIAL MEDIA: #DRIVEON

Tournament: @AIGWomensOpen (Twitter/Instagram), #AIGWO, #WorldClass

LPGA: @LPGA, @LPGAMedia (Twitter), @lpga_tour (Instagram)

TV TIMES (all times Eastern)

Friday, Aug. 5 – 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. (USA)

Saturday, Aug. 6 – 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. (USA); 12-3 p.m. (NBC)

Sunday, Aug. 7 – 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. (USA); 12-3 p.m. (NBC)

TOURNAMENT SCORING RECORDS

18 holes: 62, Minea Blomqvist, third round, 2004; Mirim Lee, first round, 2016

36 holes: 133, Caroline Masson, 2011; Mirim Lee, 2016; In-Kyung Kim, 2017

54 holes: 199, In-Kyung Kim, 2017

72 holes: 269, Karen Stupples, 2004

COURTESY LPGA COMMUNICATIONS

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