Date: June 27, 2008

Late stumble costs Hetherington

Two late bogeys dampened an otherwise solid round from Australian Rachel Hetherington, who has a share of 12th place after the opening round of the US Women&aposs Open. The 36-year-old fired a two-under-par 71 at Interlachen Country Club, four strokes behind Korean teenager Ji Young Oh and American Pat Hurst, who both shot six-under 67s. They lead by one shot from another Korean, Song-Hee Kim, with three players – compatriot Ji Yai Shin, Sweden&aposs Louise Friberg and Colombian amateur Maria Jose Uribe – at four-under. Hetherington, who is coming off four top-15 finishes in her last six starts, is the best of the Aussie contingent. Katherine Hull is a stroke behind at one-under, while three-time champion Karrie Webb struggled to a two-over 75, Lindsey Wright had a 78 and Wendy Doolan a 79. Rachel Bailey carded a seven-over 80 to be near the tail of the field. A week before her 20th birthday, Oh compiled six birdies in her first 12 holes on her way to a six-under-par 67 in ideal morning conditions. Her score was later matched by Hurst, who overcame a poor early stretch to pick up seven strokes over the final 13 holes, finishing in style with a birdie at the last. “I&aposve always dreamed to win and be the leader at the US Open,” said Oh, who was inspired to take up golf after watching Se Ri Pak win the 1998 Women&aposs Open, a performance that is already proving one of the most significant moments in golf history, because it opened the floodgates to a wave of young Koreans to follow in her footsteps. Oh, one of 32 Koreans in the 156-woman Open field, enjoyed a great day with her irons, making most of her birdies from close range. “I think this course suits my game pretty well, so I&aposm pretty confident this week,” she said. “I made seven birdies today and the longest was maybe 12 feet.” World No.1 Lorena Ochoa did not play like the best female golfer in the world but a late comeback saved her day and perhaps the tournament. Unlike Michelle Wie, who in one horrendous hole threw away any chance of contending, Ochoa dug herself out of a perilous predicament to keep alive her hopes. “I&aposm really happy with my even par,” the Mexican said after finishing strongly to post a 73. “We all know that anything around even par for the US Open is always good. I&aposm a little disappointed I didn&apost take some advantage of the great conditions, but at the same time I&aposm still in it and that&aposs what&aposs important.” But Ochoa was in danger of not staying in it as she fell to three over after 12 holes. A couple more bogeys and she would have been in deep trouble, but she turned it around like the champion she is with three birdies in the final five holes. “Sometimes you get tired of waiting and waiting (for birdies),” she said, admitting her patience had started to wane. “It was playing fairly easy in the morning. It was important to come back and finish even par.” While 26-year-old Ochoa displayed composure to salvage a half decent score from a potential wreck, Wie again demonstrated her golfing immaturity with a quintuple-bogey at the par-four ninth. Wie made one poor decision after another, turning what should have been a triple bogey at worst into an error-strewn nine that was largely responsible for her eight-over 81. She drove into the right rough and got too aggressive with her second shot, finding the rough again. From there, she pitched over the back of the green, leaving herself with a delicate downhill chip. She could, and probably should, have played out sideways, as one of her fellow competitors did from a similar spot, but instead took dead aim at the pin. Her first chip barely moved a couple of feet, and she subsequently putted completely off the front of the green. Two more chips and two putts later she walked off the green having given five shots to the field. “I had trouble counting how many strokes I had,” said the 18-year-old from Hawaii. “It was just one bad hole. It&aposs a US Open (and) it will bite you in the butt.”