Birdie run puts Shibuno on top at Scottish Open

Birdie run puts Shibuno on top at Scottish Open

Hinako Shibuno of Japan birdied three of her final four holes Thursday to take the lead after the first round of the Women’s Scottish Open at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire, Scotland.

Shibuno fired an 8-under-par 64 that put her two shots clear of Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden. A group of three tied for third place at 4-under — Nicole Broch Estrup of Denmark, Caroline Hedwall of Sweden and Caroline Inglis, the only American among the top nine in the field.

After starting her opening round on the back nine, Shibuno birdied her first hole of the day, then reeled off four consecutive birdies from Nos. 13-16. She made the turn at 5 under and pulled off a stretch of seven consecutive pars before her birdie run to complete her round.

“I surprised myself with the four birdies in a row,” Shibuno said.

Her solid round came despite a lingering finger issue.

“The ground is firm, firmer than a normal course, but if you hit low and solid, my finger is not getting hurt,” Shibuno said. “So I’m just being relaxed and more thinking about sequence, the swing.”

Shibuno, who won the 2019 Women’s Open, has seven professional wins, with six of those in Japan. She has not won an event since 2021.

Sagstrom, the runner-up at the 2021 Women’s Open, also started her day on the back nine, where she reeled off three consecutive birdies to begin her round. She made the turn at 4-under, then bogeyed the par-4 first hole before closing with three birdies over her final seven holes.

“It started really solid with three birdies right away,” said Sagstrom, who is making a push to be included in the Solheim Cup. “Made some really good iron shots today. It kept the driver in play and not fantastic, but I think my iron shots kept me in it. I made some easy putts and overall a pretty easy day.”

Estrup started her round with a bogey on the first hole, but poured in three birdies before making the turn. Birdies at Nos. 15 and 17 distanced her from the slow start.

Hedwall had four birdies and no bogeys on the day, closing her round with a birdie 3 at No. 9. Inglis had a pair of birdies on each side.

“I think Scottish golf is always interesting because you have to get really creative with the wind and I tried to like pick conservative targets and make decisive swings at them,” said Inglis, whose season was interrupted by a back injury. “And then I made a few putts, which is nice. … I had a lot of lag putts today, and speed was a little off but was able to make a lot of the come-backers, so that was nice.”

Defending champion Ayaka Furue of Japan struggled in her opening round with a bogey and two double bogeys to shoot a 2-over-par 74. She is tied for 54th after the opening round.

France’s Celine Boutier, who won the final major of the season last week at the Evian Championships, finished in a group of four tied for sixth place at 3-under after a round that included a bogey and two birdies over her final six holes.

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