ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND // Park In-bee began her pursuit of an unprecedented fourth straight professional major with an eventful, three-under 69 on Thursday in the Women's British Open.
For 10 holes, it looked as though Park would be tough to beat. After a ragged back nine, she was happy to break 70.
Park made five putts from 15 feet or longer in an amazing display with the putter. She made six birdies in 10 holes to get her name atop the leaderboard at St Andrews, a venue steeped in lore and player history.
But the South Korean, 25, began missing fairways, and she took a double-bogey from a pot bunker in front of the 16th green. Park had to concede that while she might look stoic on the outside, she was feeling some heat internally.
"I was a little bit nervous this morning before I teed off," Park said. "But then once the round started, and especially playing so good in the first few holes, that really gave me a lot of confidence.
"I didn't feel much pressure when I was playing during the round. I'm just glad that it is already started and I got the first round under my belt."
American Morgan Pressel, hopeful of being a spoiler this week, was the early clubhouse leader at six-under 66.
But most eyes this week are on Park, the world No 1.
"I played very good on the front nine and then I had a little bit shaky on the back nine," Park said. "But I still feel really good about the game. I was sixunder through 10 holes and that means I could do the same thing tomorrow. "
One of the best putters in the women's game, she sank birdie putts that measured close to 40, 30, 20 and 10 feet during her opening 10-hole stretch.
She teed off at 7:03am local time which was prime time in her native South Korea, where a nation is fixated on her daily results.
No player, male or female, has won four modern majors in the same season.
With seven birdies, two bogeys and one double-bogey, she called the round "a roller-coaster". She sprayed several tee shots and had consecutive three-putt bogeys on the back nine.
"I was hitting it so good on the practice round and I didn't really miss any balls," she said. "I thought I was really prepared, but those couple of bad shots really shocked me. I couldn't really concentrate on the greens when I hit those shots. I've learnt my lesson. Good thing I've got my time to fix that today and tomorrow."
Given the way she has played this year, Park might have gotten her shaky round out of the way.
"A little bit disappointing," she said of her inward play, "but I'm glad that I've done that in the first round instead of the final round.
"I'm looking to improve the next three days."
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