SOUTHPORT, England (AP) – Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie had trouble with the strong wind and heavy rains at the Women’s British Open. Jeong Jang sailed right through with a 4-under-par 68 Thursday and the first round lead.

Jang, a South Korean looking for her first win in 5 years on the LPGA Tour, had an eagle and four birdies at Royal Birkdale for a one-shot lead over 2000 champion Sophie Gustafson.

Sorenstam’s 1-over 73 left her five shots back in her bid for a 10th major title and third of the season, while Wie shot a 75 on her first visit to this regular stop on the men’s British Open rotation.

Rain battered the course so intently, that play had to be halted for almost an hour because one deluge left some of the greens flooded.

The delay forced play to be suspended because of darkness, with 30 players having to complete their first rounds Friday morning. Wie was 1 over and had just hit her tee shot at 11 when officials stopped play.

“It was in a pot bunker and that was extra special,” the 15-year-old Wie said. “Then I hit it just right of the green. And I thought the greens would be soft because the green flooded over, but it wasn’t really soft. It was actually really hard. So I hit my chip and was about nine feet long and I missed that.”

A bogey at 11 was followed by a double bogey six at 13 when she drove into the left rough and then 3-putted. Although she made two birdies, she dropped five more shots before finishing with pars on the last five holes.

“I have played in rain before. I have played in wind before. I have played in cold before, but not all put together,” Wie said. “They were the hardest conditions I ever played in.”

Sorenstam has seen this type of course many times and won the title on the Royal Lytham links two years ago.

“It was obviously very, very difficult today – rainy, wet and cold. We had it all,” the Swede said. “I think I left a few (putts) out there. I wish I would have made them. Then again, it was really tough and there is a long way to go.”

One under after 10 holes, Sorenstam bogeyed 12 and 13 before closing with pars the rest of the way.

Jang, one of 19 South Koreans in a field of 150, also found the conditions tough but managed to master the driving rain.

“The course is really great but it is windy so that makes it hard,” said Jang, who sank a 25-foot putt for eagle at No. 6.

Jang won titles in her homeland as an amateur before qualifying for the American LPGA Tour. Despite nine top 10 finishes last year and a tie for second at the Sybase Classic in May, she is still searching for her first victory.

Gustafson, who won the 2000 title on the same Royal Birkdale links before the tournament became a major, had an inauspicious start when she double bogeyed the first hole. But she rebounded with seven birdies, including three of the last four holes.

She is one stroke ahead of Nicole Perrot of Chile, who shot a 2-under 70. Perrot led the U.S. Women’s Open by two strokes at the halfway point, but faded with two rounds of 78 and finished tied for 23rd.

Se Ri Pak’s British Open lasted just eight holes before the former champion walked off the course with a finger injury at 6-over par. Holder of four majors including a triumph at Sunningdale four years ago, Pak told officials she injured her right index finger trying to get out of the rough and afterward had problems holding the club.


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