US Women's Open Golf 2017: Shanshan Feng Holds Narrow Lead After Thursday

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJuly 14, 2017

China's Shanshan Feng tees off on the 13th hole during the first round of the U.S. Women's Open Golf tournament Thursday, July 13, 2017, in Bedminster, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

A little rain didn't do anything to dampen Shanshan Feng's mood, as she holds a one-stroke lead after firing a six-under 66 in the first round of the 2017 U.S. Women's Open on Thursday.

Play was halted at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey for approximately two hours late in the afternoon due to rain. The women who hadn't finished their round got back on the course at 6:34 p.m. ET to resume play before it was suspended due to darkness. 

Per the United States Golf Association, the first round will resume at 6:45 a.m. ET and second-round tee times will be pushed back by 15 minutes. 

Here's how the top of the leaderboard looks for the LPGA's third major tournament of the year:

Position             Player                         Score

1                        Shanshan Feng        -6 (66)

2                        Amy Yang                 -5 (67)

T3                      So Yeon Ryu             -4 (68)

T3                      Carlota Ciganda       -4 (17)

T3                      Lydia Ko                   -4 (68)

T6                      Sei Young Kim         -3 (69)

T6                      Megan Khang          -3 (69)

T6                      Jeong Eun Lee         -3 (69)

T6                      Rachel Heck             -3 (13)

T6                      Nelly Korda              -3 (69)

T6                      Minjee Lee               -3 (69)

T6                      Hye-Jin Choi            -3 (69)

T6                      Cristie Kerr              -3 (69)

Full leaderboard can be found at USGA.org

Feng has been searching for her second major victory for a long time. Her first came when she was 22 years old at the 2012 Women's PGA Championship. She's had several close calls in the last five years, including 10 top-10 finishes and a tie for second at the 2014 Women's British Open.

The 2016 Olympic bronze medalist didn't hit a bogey on Thursday. She started her round on the back nine and looked comfortable right out of the gate with five birdies over her first nine holes. 

Because Feng was on the course early, she was able to get back to the clubhouse long before the rains came and watched the rest of the field try to play catch up. 

After her day was done, Feng noted how some things have changed for her over the course of her career:

Not far behind Feng is Lydia Ko, who is seeking to end her own winless drought, at four-under par. She hasn't earned a victory on the LPGA Tour since the 2016 Marathon Classic, though at 20 years old it's hard to be concerned about this being a prolonged slump.

Even though Ko is in contention heading into Friday, she did give two shots back with bogeys on Nos. 5 and 9 after she tied Feng for the lead. 

Despite the late stumble, Ko did sound upbeat about her first 18 holes at the U.S. Women's Open:

Things weren't as smooth for Michelle Wie, who ended her first round at one-over par but was able to salvage something with a birdie on the 18th hole:

The U.S. Women's Open was the site of Wie's biggest win on the LPGA Tour in 2014. That also happened to be her last victory on the tour, and she's struggled this season with just six top-10 finishes in 14 events. 

Among the cluster of players tied for sixth at three-under par, Rachel Heck is the best story. She is a 15-year-old sophomore at St. Agnes Academy in Memphis who earned her spot in this event by finishing second in a qualifying event last month. 

Heck showcased some of the brilliance that she will eventually put on display at Stanford in 2020 with this approach on No. 17:

No matter how the rest of this weekend plays out for Heck, she's already put the rest of the LPGA on notice. Her future on the biggest stage in the sport looks secure, even if it will be another year before she's allowed to drive. 

There are still 39 players who have to finish their first round, including Heck. She will have to put in the most work on Friday with five holes left in the first round, plus all 18 in the second round. 

It will be a busy day for all 156 players vying for the U.S. Open title. The true contenders should be able to separate themselves from the rest of the pack before the field gets cut down. 

Related

    Justin Rose Wins Fort Worth Invitational

    Golf logo
    Golf

    Justin Rose Wins Fort Worth Invitational

    Rob Goldberg
    via Bleacher Report

    Italy's Molinari wins PGA Championship from McIlroy

    Golf logo
    Golf

    Italy's Molinari wins PGA Championship from McIlroy

    BBC Sport
    via BBC Sport

    Justin Rose Builds Lead at Fort Worth Invitational

    Golf logo
    Golf

    Justin Rose Builds Lead at Fort Worth Invitational

    Kyle Newport
    via Bleacher Report

    Tiger Calls on PGA to Allow Shorts on Tour

    Golf logo
    Golf

    Tiger Calls on PGA to Allow Shorts on Tour

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report