Felicity Johnson made a late move up the leaderboard Thursday at the LPGA’s Vic Open to take a two-stroke lead over Canadian Anne-Catherine Tanguay and two others after the opening round.
The Englishwoman shot an eight-under 65 on the Creek course at the 13th Beach Golf Links, where men and women played in alternate groups in the unique tournament format also sanctioned by the men’s European Tour.
“Any time you shoot eight under, it’s pretty good,” Johnson said. “To do it bogey free is a bonus. I’m going to sound a bit cocky, but it was really easy. I hit 17 greens in regulation, birdied three of the par 5s, so there’s kind of a couple of almost gimme birdies.”
Su Oh of Australia had a hole-in-one and had held the lead for most of the day with Quebec City’s Tanguay, both at six under. The 66 was the lowest round of Tanguay’s LPGA career. Kim Kaufman joined them in a tie for second with a 66 in the afternoon.
Oh aced the par-3 15th hole with a 6-iron.
Tanguay played the par-72 Beach course and shot 66, hitting 12 of 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens.
It’s Tanguay’s third full LPGA season. Ranked 310th in the world, her best career finish is a tie for 16th at the 2018 Cambia Portland Classic.
Minjee Lee began her title defence with a one-under 72, while seven-time major winner Karrie Webb shot 73, both on the Creek course. Morgan Pressel was three-under after a 70 on the Creek layout, as was Georgia Hall.
Alena Sharp of Hamilton is tied for 10th at four under. Jaclyn Lee of Calgary, making her pro debut, and Brittany Marchand of Orangeville, Ont., are tied for 97th at one over.
Nick Flanagan, an Australian who won the 2003 U.S. Amateur, shot a 10-under 62 on the Creek course to take a two-stroke lead in the men’s tournament.
Among those tied for second were Flanagan’s roommate, James Nitties, and Kurt Kitayama, Hugo Leon and Callum Shinkwin. Andrew (Beef) Johnston shot 66, also on the Creek course, as did former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogivly on the Beach course.
Tournament officials said Nitties, who started on the back nine at the Beach course, tied a record for consecutive birdies with nine, equalling Mark Calcavecchia’s record at the 2009 Canadian Open at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont. Unfortunately for Nitties, he double-bogeyed his fifth hole before making birdie on the last four holes of the back nine and the first five on the front.
“I don’t hold any other world records that I know of so to be a part of one is pretty cool,” Nitties joked.
The 62 was Flanagan’s lowest tournament round.
“I have had a few 9-unders on tour,” he said. “It felt super uncomfortable but it kind of came easy if that makes any sense, which it doesn’t really. A couple of early putts dropped and I just wasn’t trying too hard essentially.”
Austin Connelly, a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen who represents Canada, is tied for 88th at two under.
The start of play was delayed for more than an hour by early-morning fog.
The Beach course is being played as a par-72 for both men and women; the Creek is par-72 for men and 73 for women. Both courses will be used for the first two rounds of the tournament.
The Women’s Australian Open, also sanctioned by the LPGA, will be played next week at The Grange in Adelaide.