Lucky draw: Lewis' early morning brings success

Stacy Lewis teed off early St. Andrews for the first round of the Women's British Open, but finished with 5-under 67.

Stacy Lewis teed off early St. Andrews for the first round of the Women's British Open, but finished with 5-under 67.

ST ANDREWS, Scotland – Stacy Lewis played the Old Course back to front, but she is in contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

Conventional wisdom says you make your score on the Old Course’s outward half and try not to lose it on the homeward nine. Lewis didn’t follow that guideline but still compiled a 5-under 67.

Lewis went to the turn in level-par 36 and was feeling a little frustrated. She soon eased those frustrations with a homeward 5-under 31, thanks to five birdies and no bogeys, including a four-birdie stretch in five holes.

“I kind of got off to a frustrating start,” Lewis said. “I birdied the first but then played 1 over par the rest of the front nine, which is the nine you need to score on. With the hole locations today, the front was definitely playing easiest. I just didn’t take advantage of it, so I was a little frustrated going into the back nine.”

The 28-year-old American began the back nine with birdies at Nos. 11 and 12 before adding further birdies at 14, 15 and 18. She was fortunate on 15, though. She hit a fat approach shot but chipped in from 15 yards short of the green.

“It all kind of turned on 11,” she said. “I hit a great shot in there to 5 or 6 (feet) and made that for birdie, and then from there I played solid. I got more comfortable with my putter, made a couple of good putts for par. To come away shooting 5 under on the back nine on this golf course, I don’t care if it’s calm or if it’s windy, it’s a good score.”

Lewis teed off in the company of Karrie Webb and Mika Miyazato at 6:41 a.m. That meant a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call, the earliest Lewis has ever had to get up for a round of golf.

That early tee time might prove to be an advantage at the end of the week. The weather is such a huge factor in links golf that getting the right side of the draw in any Open Championship in the British Isles can be critical. Lewis was able to complete her round before the poor weather that is expected to blow in for the later starters.

“This course and the way the weather is supposed to be today, the early tee time is definitely what you wanted," Lewis said. "So I wasn’t going to be complain about waking up a little bit earlier.”

Lewis might have grown up in The Woodlands, Texas, but she feels right at home on the Old Course. She played the Curtis Cup over the Old Course in 2008, compiling a 5-0 record to help the United States to a 13-7 victory.

“I love this course," she said. "I loved it when I played Curtis Cup here. I feel so comfortable here. It’s a much different feeling to any other British Open I’ve ever played because I know the golf course.

“Usually you go to an Open and you have no clue where all the bunkers are and things like that.”

Scotland has only two players in this field: Catriona Matthew and Carly Booth. Maybe Scottish fans can claim Lewis for their own. She’s practically a homer.

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