The opening round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open was suspended at 8:23 p.m. local time due to darkness. The first round will resume Friday morning at 7:15 a.m.
Play no sooner got started at 7:10 a.m. when it was suspended shortly after at 11:45 a.m. local time due to lightning in the area. After a nearly three-hour delay, play resumed at 2:40 p.m. with Stephanie Meadow posting the low round of the morning with a 66 to take the early lead. In the afternoon she was caught by Chella Choi who leads at seven-under par through 14 holes. She played alongside Karine Icher who was feeding off her playing partner and climbed to six-under par through 14 holes to tie Meadow in a share of second before play was called for the day. Choi and Icher will return Friday morning to complete their round. Just two-back of the lead sit defending champion Lydia Ko, Mi Jung Hur, Mirim Lee and Ariya Jutanugarn who has four holes remaining in her first round to complete.
Choi started her day on the back nine and made the turn in four-under par, 32 and has gone bogey-free so far on the round. The No.41 ranked player in the world broke through for her first win on the LPGA Tour in 2015 after seven years on Tour but has struggled to add a second victory in 2016, posting just three top-10 finishes. She’s making her eighth start in Canada this week where she’s had mixed success, her best finish coming back in 2012 when she finished T-3 for the week. In 2009, when this event was last held at Priddis Greens Golf & Country Club, Choi finished in a share of 40th after opening with a 68.
Meadow, who splits her schedule between the Epson and LPGA Tours, is making the most of the sponsor invite she received this week to make her seventh LPGA start of the season. She’s coming off her best finish of the year in a share of 12th at the Firekeepers Casino Hotel Championship on the Epson Tour and represented her home country of Ireland last week in Rio where she finished T-31. Meadow looks to be continuing that momentum this week in Canada where she opened with a 66 on Thursday, matching her low round of the year.
“I think Rio was a huge adrenaline rush for everyone that was there. I know all of us had a fantastic experience. I played pretty good in the second round there, too. I think I definitely took some confidence and am rolling it into this week,” Meadow told the media. “I'm here to compete and win no matter what week, so I think any tournament gives me a little bit of a rush. Maybe not as much as the Olympics but mostly all the time.”
Meadow started her day on the back nine, going out in 32 to move into a share of the early lead at four-under par, but then play was suspended which made the nearly three-hour wait to return to the course that much more difficult.
"You kind of start thinking and whatever. But I just texted my mom and my coach, and my coach just said stay in your own little bubble and keep doing what you're doing, and it worked," Meadow said.
While Ko may have finished No.2 last week in Rio, the world No.1 is on track to finish atop the leaderboard in Canada for the fourth time in her career. The defending champion began the day on the back nine, going out with a bogey-free 32. She added two more birdies on her second nine to post an opening round, 67. As an amateur Ko won the 2012 and 2013 playing of this event and picked up her third victory in 2015 as a professional.
“You know, they were really firm, and even with the moisture and the density overnight, it was still really firm for our first 11 holes,” Ko said after her round. “Obviously with the rain, we had a little bit during our delay, the greens were a little bit softer than what we were playing, so things that -- shots that you thought would run out like 10 yards, some of them even spun back, and I don't think we could have seen that if there wasn't the rain. The rain I think definitely made the greens a little softer, but at the same time it didn't make the greens slower. It was still pretty quick when we were putting out there.”
Mirim Lee was one of six players leading the way at four-under par when play was suspended and struggled on her return, missing her par putt at the par four, 15th to record her only bogey of the day. But Lee bounced back at the par four, 15th hole with a birdie to take the lead at five-under par.
"Oh, this course was perfect, and then the greens are really fast. I'm a little bit worried, and then -- but now is okay. The score is good," Lee said after her round.
The world No.19 has been knocking on the door throughout the 2016 season, taking the first round lead at the U.S. Women’s Open and RICOH Women’s British Open with opening rounds of 64 and 62 respectively, but has been unable to convert the win. Lee finished in a share of second in her last two starts at the RICOH Women’s British Open and Marathon Classic, where she lost in a playoff. Lee knows what it takes to win on Tour, having captured two victories in her rookie season in 2014 but has struggled to add another win. She’s off to her best start in Canada, where she missed the cut last year and finished T-46 in 2014.
Hur made a long birdie from off the green at the par five, 18th hole to move to five-under par on day one. Hur says she felt comfortable in her return to Priddis Greens Golf & Country Club this week, the same track that hosted this event during her rookie season in 2009 where she finished T-16.
“You know, I was here about seven years ago, in '09, and I have good memories,” Hur said after her round. “But this year the conditions are super nice. The greens are super fast. I think this is the fastest greens I've ever had on the Tour. But I'm trying to focus on my speed when I putt it; it helps me a lot today. I will just keep focused on my speed.”
The world No.52 ranked player had 29 putts on Thursday and ranks 17th on Tour in putting average. She has come close to breaking through in 2016, posting three top-6 finishes including a T-2 at the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout. Her best finish in this event came last season in a share of 12th.
A large group sits in a tie for seventh at four-under par, including Olympians Suzann Pettersen, Su Oh, In Gee Chun, Stacy Lewis and Alena Sharp. 2014 champion So Yeon Ryu is also at four-under par as well as Jaclyn Lee and Lee Lopez.