Mamiko Higa carded a bogey-free round of 6-under 65 to secure the first round lead at the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open Championship.
The 25-year-old from Tokyo, Japan – playing in her first U.S. Women’s Open, tied for the third-lowest single round in championship history.
“I didn’t expect much here, to come here and play that well,” said Higa, who is the first Japanese player to lead the U.S. Women’s Open after 18 holes since 1993.
“I came here on Saturday and since then, I not only golf, but I enjoy the life here. So I’ll keep enjoying it and enjoying it, and just come in to the golf course, and I just enjoyed 18 holes today.”
Esther Henseleit and Gina Kim were one back, and tied for second-place, at 5-under 66.
Kim, an amateur from Duke University, offset three bogeys with a 140-yard hole-out eagle on No. 8 and six birdies, including a final-hole gain to reach 66 and tie for the lowest round by an amateur in championship history.
“It feels amazing. This is something I dreamed of as a little girl,” said Kim, who last week won the NCAA National Championship title with her Duke teammates. “So being able to finish out strong like that really shows me that I’m ready to be here and I’m definitely ready to do whatever I can to keep myself in it.”
Henseleit, a rookie on the Ladies European Tour, shot a bogey-free round in her major-championship debut. One further back was Celine Boutier, who shot a 4-under 67 which included six birdies against two bogeys.
Rounding out the top-5 on the leaderboard were Sei Young Kim and Azahara Munoz, who carded matching 3-under 68s.
2019 U.S. Women’s Open
Top 5: Round One
1. Mamiko Higa -6
2. Esther Henseleit -5
2. Gina Kim -5
4. Celine Boutier -4
5. Sei Young Kim -3
5. Azahara Munoz -3
7. Yu Liu -2
7. Andrea Lee -2
7. Misuzu Narita -2
7. Carlota Ciganda -2
7. Jenny Shin -2
7. Nelly Korda -2
7. Jessica Korda -2
“It’s been a good day. Especially since I’ve come to the LPGA, the U.S. Women’s Open has been one I’ve really wanted to win and get good results. But I haven’t been able to see the good results yet, but this is one I really want to do well on.”
– Sei Young Kim (-3, T5)