Amelia Garvey lines up a shot today – Photo USGA Jeff Haynes

New Zealand’s 20 year old amateur, Amelia Garvey, leads the Australasian contingent after the opening round of the US Women’s Open at the Champions Golf Club in Houston in Texas.

Garvey recorded an opening round of 1 under par 70 at the Crystal Creek layout, one of two courses being used in the opening 36 holes of the event in order to fit in with the reduced light at this time of year in the US.

UK born but Christchurch raised, Garvey, who is in her third year at the University of Southern California, had achieved significant success in the amateur ranks even before heading to California, but her game has blossomed under the US Collegiate system and coach, Justin Silverstein.

One of her teammates at the USC is Australian, Gabriela Ruffels, who won the US Amateur in 2019 and finished runner-up this year in the same event.

Interestingly, Ruffels recorded an opening round of even par today to be just one behind Garvey.

In 2019 Garvey finished runner-up at the Women’s Amateur Championship in Britain and earned her place in what is her first major championship courtesy of her ranking inside the top 25 in the women’s amateur rankings.

Garvey birdied her opening hole of the day and made the turn in two under 33. She held things together on her closing nine and finds herself just three shots from the opening round leader, Amy Olson of the US and tied in 12th position.

“Unreal”, said Garvey when asked to describe her day.” “I just had so much fun out there, yeah. After eight months after, I thought I would be a bit more rusty, and nice to be 1-under, so really happy with where the game was at. Obviously, there was a few nerves, but just tried to stay present and one shot at a time.”

Garvey played with her fellow New Zealander, Ko, in a practice round earlier in the week and was boosted by Ko’s vote of confidence in her game.

“She was just raving on about she hasn’t seen me play for three years,” said Garvey. “The last time I sort of played with her was when I did the Lydia Ko scholarship before I went off to college, so she was just telling me how my game is there, I just need to back myself really.

“So that was really a good confidence booster going in to today. Obviously, I had a few nerves playing with her, as well, so it was a nice way to set up into the first round. But yeah, it was so much fun out there. It was just me and her, as well, so got to pick her brains a little bit, and just enjoy it out there with her.”

Lydia Ko – a round of 71 today – photo USGA Robert Beck

Ruffels is at even par 71 as is Garvey’s fellow New Zealander, Lydia Ko, who played the Jackrabbit layout today, her round highlighted by a holed approach for eagle at the 14th but brought undone to some extent by a double bogey at the 2nd (her 11th).

Minjee Lee a slow but not disastrous start – photo Chris Keane USGA

West Australian, Hannah Green, did little damage with her opening round of 72, Minjee Lee holed a lengthy birdie putt at the last for a round of 3 over 74, Katherine Kirk and Su Oh had 75 while Sarah Jane Smith opened with a round of 76.

The opening round leader Amy Olson – photo USGA – Jeff Haynes