BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Yueer Cindy Feng is the youngest player in the U.S. Women’s Open field.
But she’s in for a short stay.
Feng, who qualified for the Open with a blistering second round of 4-under-par 68 at the sectional qualifier at Carolina Trace on June 11 to earn entry into the field at just 13 years old, shot 10-over 81 and is tied for 132nd after the first round of the Open at Saucon Valley Country Club on Thursday.
Feng, who was born in China and moved to Orlando, Fla., just four years ago, became one of the Open’s youngest participants in the storied tournament’s history when she teed off on the 332-yard par-4 10th hole at 8:50 a.m. Two years ago, Alexis Thompson qualified at 12 years old to play in the Open at Pine Needles in Southern Pines.
“I play a lot of junior golf,” Feng said at Trace, referring to her play in the American Junior Golf Association, “but I’ve never played in anything this big.”
Feng finished her first nine holes relatively unscathed, shooting 3-over 38, but had two double bogeys on her second nine to finish with a 43.
Of the six players who earned berths after the 36-hole qualifier on the Lake Course at Trace, North Carolina rising sophomore Allie White enjoyed the best day, firing a 3-over 74 to place in her in a tie for 37th and puts her in a good position to make the cut.
She might be the only one of the Trace 6 to see the weekend.
Rosie Jones, 49, the 13-time winner on the LPGA Tour who retired in 2006, is unlikely to challenge for her elusive major championship victory after a first-round 76 left her at 5 over and in a tie for 69th.
“I don’t really have a lot of high expectations going in,” Jones said at Trace. “If I can keep my ball in the fairways and it’s dry, then maybe you’ll see me somewhere in the middle of the pack. If everything’s not perfect, if my stars aren’t aligned just right, it could be a tough go for me. But my objective was just to get there, and now I am.”
Katherine Perry, 17, of Cary, finished the first round with a 7-over 78, placing her in a tie for 103rd. She was the medalist at Trace after shooting 3 under. Kathleen Ekey, 22, of Sharon, Ohio, who shot 2-under at Trace, recently turned pro and finished with a round of 11-over 82, putting her in a tie for 143rd.
Ashleigh Albrecht, 18, of Murietta, Calif., who won the last bid into the Open field by making birdie on the first playoff hole at Trace a day before she graduated from high school, struggled mightily as well, finishing with a 17-over 88 and is in 153rd place, second to last. She took a 10 on the par-4 third hole, opening the first three holes in 8 over. She turned around and birdied the par-3 fourth hole before a string of three more bogeys.
Former Duke star Amanda Blumenherst, who won the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amatuer, was the NCAA National Player of the Year three times and was the subject of a Herald seven-part series when the Open was played at Pine Needles in 2007, shot 4-over 75 and is tied for 50th. Blumenherst, who also recently turned pro, is seeking her fourth straight made cut in the U.S. Open.
Na Yeon Choi led the Open after a 3-under 68 in the first round.