Thursday's roundup: Rain halts play with Webb, Alex in lead

Associated Press

Lancaster, Pa. — Veteran Karrie Webb and relative LPGA Tour newcomer Marina Alex each shot 4-under 66 Thursday and emerged as unlikely co-leaders midway through the first round of the U.S. Women's Open.

The 40-year-old Webb reeled off four birdies on her second nine holes and finished with her first round in the 60s in an Open since 2001, when the Australian won her second straight U.S. championship, the biggest event in women's golf.

The seven-time major champ opened on the back nine and ran off 10 straight pars before making her move on the front side with birdies at the second, fourth, sixth and eighth holes on the hilly fairways and sloping greens at Lancaster Country Club.

This season has been a struggle for Webb, who has three top-10s in 14 starts. On Thursday, all that changed as she hit 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens.

"It's been a test of my patience. I feel like I've had some good golf in me," Webb said.

"What's really pleasing is to play like this, because I know that I've worked really hard and the swing is starting to be a little more automatic," she said.

Alex, playing in her second Open and first since 2009, was a surprise finisher atop the leaderboard early Thursday. The 24-year-old from Wayne, New Jersey, is in her second season on the LPGA Tour and went five straight weeks this season without making a cut. Her best finish this year was a tie for ninth in Arkansas.

She had been working on swing changes before the championship, and it all came together as she birdied three of her last five holes — also on the front side.

On Thursday, Alex embraced the championship atmosphere and cheering crowds, but kept it all in perspective.

"I'm not a front-runner for this tournament, really," she said. "So I'm just going to go out there and have fun tomorrow with my caddie and just keep doing the things that we've been doing and just see where that puts me."

South Korea's Amy Yang was one stroke behind, and Morgan Pressel was one of six players two strokes back.

Stacey Lewis, who finished second last year, posted a 69, while Lydia Ko opened with 70, and defending champion Michelle Wie posted a 2-over 72.

Scottish Open

Thorbjorn Olesen returned to form with a seven-under 63 to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Scottish Open on Thursday, with Jimmy Walker leading a trio of top Americans in the chasing pack.

Rebounding from missing the cut in five of his last six events, Olesen made seven birdies — including three in a row on Nos. 15-17 — and was bogey-free in benign conditions for the morning starters over the Gullane links.

Daniel Brooks of England, playing in the last group, birdied the final hole to take sole ownership of second place at 6-under.

Americans Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar were in a large group on 4-under 66, along with two former champions — Graeme McDowell and last year's winner, Justin Rose.

Three qualifying places for next week's British Open are up for grabs for top-10 finishes, and Olesen is among the players still to book his place at St. Andrews.

Phil Mickelson, the 2013 winner at the Scottish Open, struggled with his putting in shooting a 1-under 69.

"I haven't played the last couple of weeks and I was a little rusty," Mickelson said.

Justin Thomas, above, is tied with Nicholas Thompson for the lead at the John Deere Classic.

John Deere Classic

For every good shot Jordan Spieth hit, a bad one seemed to follow.

Spieth's struggles left him eight shots back after the first round of his final British Open tuneup.

Justin Thomas and Nicholas Thompson each shot an 8-under-par 63 to share the lead at the John Deere Classic on Thursday. Spieth was at even-par 71 in his first round since winning the U.S Open.

Spieth, who will go for his third straight major title next week at St. Andrews, had three bogeys in a four-hole stretch and missed a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 18.

"Just a rusty round," said Spieth, who skipped last week's Greenbrier Classic. "I didn't get out on the golf course like maybe I should have."

Tom Gillis of Lake Orion and Brian Stuard of Jackson were tied for tenth place with several others at 5-under 66.