SOUTHPORT, England -- Ayako Uehara of Japan felt confident with the putter and played in the best weather Royal Birkdale has to offer. It was the right combination to take the lead Thursday in the Women's British Open. And the best she could manage was a 4-under 68.
Pot bunkers can present problems on any links course. Throw in some thick grass and par becomes a problem.
Michelle Wie could attest to that. The U.S. Women's Open champion spent too much time chipping out of sand and rough on her way to a 75. Cristie Kerr didn't make a birdie, shot 81 and withdrew with a sore back. Only nine players broke par, all but two of them in the relative calm of a sunny morning along the Irish Sea.
Uehara got her lone mistake out of the way early and made another bogey after the opening hole. She made three birdies in a four-hole stretch, added two birdies on the back nine and built a one-shot lead over Mo Martin.
Morgan Pressel scrambled her way to a 70, joined by Sarah Kemp and Mina Harigae. The only players who broke par in the afternoon were former U.S. Women's Open champion So Yeon Ryu and Amy Yang, who played in the final group at the U.S. Women's Open last month. Both shot 71.
US Senior Open: Colin Montgomerie leads after the first round at the U.S. Senior Open.
Montgomerie shot a 6-under par 65 in oppressive heat at Oak Tree National. The Scotsman started on 10 and birdied 14, 15 and 16 on the way to a 33 on the back nine. He birdied six, seven and eight to finish strong.
Marco Dawson is second after a 66. He also started on the back nine and shot 2 under, then was steady on the front nine before making birdies on seven, eight and nine.
Mark Brooks shot a 68 and is third. Bernhard Langer, who already has won three Champions Tour events this year, shot a 2-under 69 and is in a five-way tie for fourth.
John Deere Classic: Zach Johnson, Rory Sabbatini and Brian Harman shot 8-under-par 63s Thursday to share the lead after the first round of the John Deere Classic.
Johnson and Sabbatini played bogey-free golf, while Harman had nine birdies and one bogey on the par-71 TPC Deere Run.
They led 2004 British Open champion Todd Hamilton, Australian Steven Bowditch and William McGirt, the best afternoon finisher, by a stroke. Brendon de
Jonge, Kevin Tway, David Toms and Robert Streb are two back at 6-under 65.
Johnson, who won the Deere in 2012 and lost it to Jordan Spieth in a playoff last year, birdied four of his first five holes and was 6 under on his opening nine.
Spieth opened at even par 71, rallying from 2 over with three holes to play with birdies on the 16th and 17th. Sabbatini scored his best round of the year, closing with birdies on three of the last four holes.
Scottish Open: Rory McIlroy rolled in six birdies in seven holes around the turn to shoot a 7-under 64 and take a one-stroke lead midway through the first round of the Scottish Open.
Refreshed after taking two weeks off, the No. 8-ranked McIlroy tamed windy conditions in northern Scotland to show his links game is in good shape ahead of next week's British Open at Hoylake.
One of the highlights of his round was driving the green on the 436-yard 13th hole while the group ahead was on the putting surface. That set up one of his eight birdies at Royal Aberdeen.
Unheralded Swede Kristoffer Broberg shot a bogey-free 65 to sit just behind McIlroy on a leaderboard that includes Luke Donald (4-under 67). Defending champion Phil Mickelson shot 68.