• Kyodo

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Hinako Shibuno is among a trio of golfers tied for second after her U.S. Women’s Open first-round 3-under-par 68 put her one shot behind leader Amy Olson of the United States on Thursday.

The 22-year-old Shibuno, winner of the 2019 Women’s British Open, got her bid for a second major title off to an ideal start with four birdies and one bogey in the first 18 holes of the final major of the year.

One of five women’s golf majors, the U.S. Women’s Open was rescheduled from June and is being played without spectators. The Evian Championship in France, the year’s first major, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers have been forced to use two layouts — the Champions Golf Club’s Jackrabbit and Cypress Creek courses — due to the early sunset times in Houston in December. Players will complete one round on each course over the first two days and those that make the cut will play only on the Cypress Creek course on the weekend.

Olson and Shibuno played Cypress Creek, with the American one of two players to record a hole-in-one at the course on the day. Kim A Lim of South Korea and Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand joined Shibuno in second having each carded 68 at the tighter Jackrabbit layout.

“I’m surprised…. This is my best performance all year,” said Shibuno, who missed only two fairways.

“I hit consistent iron shots. I have to give myself a perfect grade. Actually, this is better than perfect,” she said.

Shibuno began play on the back nine. After sinking her first birdie on the 13th, she bogeyed the 14th for her only blemish when her second shot found a greenside bunker. She then went on to birdie hole one, five and six.

Elsewhere for Japan, Nasa Hataoka, making her third straight appearance, posted an opening-round 71 and Mamiko Higa, who finished fifth last year, joined four other Japanese players in shooting 73.

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