Morgan Pressel is slowly learning the art and craft of links golf and it could pay off with a fourth Solheim Cup appearance.
The American missed the cut the last time the championship visited St Andrews and has just one top 10 in seven starts but the penny now appears to have dropped for the 25-year-old.
Out in 34 she then picked up four birdies on the trickier back nine to open with a 66. A big week here could elevate her into the Solheim Cup team, which is named on Sunday, or at least bolster her chances of a captain’s pick.
“I’ve just gotten better at managing my game and hitting shots. You don’t just hit a stock draw, it just doesn’t work. You have to hit high shots, low shots, bump it, putt it from 40 yards off the green sometimes, do whatever it takes.
“I think as a creative person naturally, I just had to implement that a little bi better.”
Pressel is currently 12th in the Solheim standings, the top eight automatically qualify, and she admitted that while it is playing on her mind she was able to concentrate on the task in hand.
"You don’t just hit a stock draw, it just doesn’t work. You have to hit high shots, low shots, bump it, putt it from 40 yards off the green sometimes, do whatever it takes" – Morgan Pressel
“I wish I had a dollar every time somebody asked me about that. That was my biggest goal coming into this week, not to think about Solheim Cup and I only thought about it maybe a handful of times, not on every shot.”
With approximately half the field under par on a day made for low scoring, the odd drizzle and very little wind, the main story was posted by noon with Inbee Park having teed off at just after 7am.
The Korean, bidding for a fourth straight Major and something which has never been done before, looked to be taking another big one in her grasp before faltering over the back nine.
Six under after 10 she then uncharacteristically dropped four shots through some wayward driving and two consecutive three putts before normal order was resumed at the last – her seventh birdie giving her a 69.
Equally as unconventional was Stacy Lewis’ round, out in level before turning it on coming home for a round of 67.
Of the European Solheim hopefuls Charley Hull could do no better than a 76 while the leading British and Irish player was the unlikely, albeit brilliant, amateur Georgia Hall. The fellow 17-year-old was round in 68 after birdies on the last two holes.
On the same mark was England’s Liz Young who could even afford a double bogey and Scotland’s Catriona Matthew. The former champion, in the form of her life and a play-off loser earlier this term in the LPGA Championship, also birdied the last two holes for her 68.