Japan’s Hinako Shibuno leads the Women’s British Open after shooting a 6-under-par 65 in Thursday’s opening round at Muirfield.
The 23-year-old is aiming to win the major for a second time, having sensationally triumphed as a rookie when it was held at England’s Woburn Golf Club in 2019.
Hinako Shibuno of Japan plays a shot on the ninth hole during the first round of the Women’s British Open at Muirfield in Gullane, Scotland, on Aug. 4, 2022. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
Shibuno holds a one-stroke lead over American Jessica Korda, with Scotland’s Louise Duncan and Mexico’s Gaby Lopez tied for third at 4-under.
Miyuu Yamashita is next-best among the Japanese players, tied for 10th at 2-under, while Nasa Hataoka is tied for 26th at even-par.
Shibuno, who missed the cut at the recent Scottish Open, made the perfect start with birdies on the first three holes.
She carded two bogeys, but offset them with eight birdies for the round, including two in succession on the 16th and 17th that ensured she headed back to the clubhouse with the lead.
“It has been a long time since I’ve played this well, especially putting,” Shibuno said. “Honestly, it was a little frightening.”
Shibuno had never previously played outside Japan when she won the 2019 British Women’s Open in her major debut, becoming an instant fan favorite and earning the nickname “the Smiling Cinderella” for her sunny demeanor on the course.
“I’m always happy to be here,” she said. “It was nostalgic to be on top (of the leaderboard).”