Japan tops WWATC leaderboard, Ireland contends at home
Olivia Mehaffey (Steven Gibbons/USGA photo)
Olivia Mehaffey (Steven Gibbons/USGA photo)

DUBLIN, Ireland (Aug. 29, 2018) – Yuka Yasuda, 17, posted a bogey-free and record-tying 7-under-par 65 on the par-72 Montgomerie Course to propel Japan to a two-stroke lead over China in the first round.

“My short game and putting were very good,” said Yasuda, who tied the first-round 65 postedy by countrywoman Rikako Morita in 2006 in South Africa. “I was hitting shots solid today and sinking three- to four-meter putts – that was pretty good today. I was very confident putting.”

Teammates Yuna Nishimura and Yuri Yoshida each shot 1-under 71 for a team total of 8-under 136, which is just one stroke off the WWATC first-round team mark of 135 set by Canada in Japan in 2014.

“Everybody tried hard, but Yuka made just about everything on the putting green,” said Japanese captain Tomoko Sakamoto, who is serving for the fourth time. “She looked so comfortable on the green. She felt like she was going to make every one of them. I’m very happy!”

China, which played on the par-73 O’Meara Course, was led by Mohan Du. With birdies on her first three holes and five total on her front nine, she shot a 6-under-par 67.

“I don’t know what happened today,” Du said. “I could feel my head spinning around because I have a real heavy cold. We just arrived here yesterday early morning and didn’t have a practice round because we just finished the Asian Games. It was a long way to travel here so I didn’t think much or set targets today. I just took it easy and played every shot. And that’s why I had a good result. I feel amazing.”

Du, 16, reached 7-under through 15 holes but bogeyed the 16th and 17th before a finishing birdie, which gave her eight birdies against two bogeys. Her teammate Ruoning Yin, 15, added an even-par 73 for a 6-under team total of 140.

Defending champion Republic of Korea and Austria share third position at 4 under with Australia and Ireland tied for sixth at 3 under; the USA and Hong Kong, China are tied for eighth at 2 under and Venezuela and Italy are tied for 10th at 1 under.

Irishwoman Olivia Mehaffey, an Arizona State junior who is playing at home this week, hit the opening tee shot on Wednesday morning on the Montgomerie course.

“A little bit of nerves. There was a lot of people out there, I didn’t expect so many people to be out there at a 7.45 a.m. tee time on a Wednesday,” she said. “That was lovely. Definitely, it’s nice to get the first round and keep yourself up towards the top of the leaderboard.”

With 2-under 70, Mehaffey led Ireland to the sixth spot on the leaderboard.

ABOUT THE Women's World Amateur Team

In 1958 the United States Golf Association asked The R&A to join them in sponsoring a world-wide amateur golf team event to be played biennially in non-Walker Cup years. Between 35 and 40 nations were represented at the first meeting and President Dwight D. Eisenhower presented the trophy which bears his name. The committee of the event was to be known as the World Amateur Golf Council and is now the International Golf Federation. Teams of four players from each country competed over 72 holes with the leading three scores from each round to count. The first competition was held between 29 nations at St Andrews, with Australia beating the United States in a play-off. In 2002 the format changed to teams of three with the two leading scores to count.

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