The scariest thing about Ariya Jutanugarn's opening round in the Kingsmill Championship is how much better it could have been. Without the double bogey she took on the par-3 17th, how low could her 9-birdie 64 have ended up? As it is, she leads a resurgent Cristie Kerr by 2, So Yeon Ryu and Dewi Claire Schreefel by 3, and a host of golfers--including Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, Suzann Pettersen, Ai Miyazato, Angela Stanford, Azahara Munoz, Caroline Hedwall, Hee Young Park, and Jee Young Lee--by 4. With Na Yeon Choi, Ya Ni Tseng, Paula Creamer, Shanshan Feng, and Amy Yang breaking 70 on the par-71 River Course as well, the 17-year-old LET member has her work cut out for her over the next 54 holes, but Ariya is already proving she belongs on the LPGA and that she's a favorite for Rookie of the Year next season.
Not everyone who's gotten off to good starts in 2013 thus far had strong opening rounds, however. Defending champion Ji-Yai Shin averaged less than 220 yards off the tee and made only 2 birdies on her way to a blah kind of 70, but even worse was Hee Kyung Seo at 71, Se Ri Pak, In-Kyung Kim, Beatriz Recari, Catriona Matthew, and Lizette Salas at 72, Moriya Jutanugarn at 73, Guilia Sergas and Danielle Kang at 74, and Christina Kim and Seon Hwa Lee at 76. If they can stay or get under par by the end of the day today, they're likely to make the cut, but they have a whole lot of ground to make up to be factors on Sunday. I'm interested in seeing if Michelle Wie (73) and Chie Arimura (74) can make the cut and finally get some momentum going in their respective races to make the Solheim Cup team and win Rookie of the Year this year. And I'll be rooting for Hannah Yun (73), Mariajo Uribe (73), Moira Dunn (74), Morgan Pressel (74), Jeong Jang (74), and Jennifer Song (74) to take advantage of a course that historically has proven vulnerable to low rounds.
[Update (7:25 am): Color bangkokbobby impressed! And check out his photo gallery from round 1....]