Higa leads as rookies rule at US Women's Open

Photo: AFP

Japan's Mamiko Higa fired the lowest ever debut round at the US Women's Open on Thursday, carding a six-under-par 65 to open up a one-shot lead at the Country Club of Charleston.

The 25-year-old from Okinawa, playing in the tournament for the first time, showed no signs of stagefright on her way to a bogey-free total.

Higa launched a superb first round with a run of three consecutive birdies on the third, fourth and fifth holes before a further birdie at the ninth took her to four under at the turn.

Two more birdies on the back nine left her at six under, one shot clear of German rookie Esther Henseleit, another US Women's Open debutant, and American amateur Gina Kim, who both posted five-under-par 66s.

"I didn't expect much here, to come here and play that well," Higa said.

"I came here on a 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."

Higa said she had adjusted to the hot, humid conditions in South Carolina by limiting her practice.

"It's really, really hot here, so I try not to waste my energy," she said "So short practice and just staying calm and just get rest."

Higa's fellow debutant Henseleit was similarly flawless in her maiden US Women's Open round, sinking five birdies and 13 pars en route to her bogey-free 66.

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