Aussie golf prodigy shines on major debut

Sydney teenage golf sensation Stephanie Kyriacou has made an impressive major championship debut at the women's British Open at Royal Troon.

STEPHANIE KYRIACOU of Australia hits her tee shot during the TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup at the Chukyo Japan.
STEPHANIE KYRIACOU of Australia hits her tee shot during the TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup at the Chukyo Japan. Picture: Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images for TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup

Australian teenage prodigy Stephanie Kyriacou went to bed "stoked" after showcasing her class to the golfing world during the first round of the women's British Open at Royal Troon.

Kyriacou led outright on the front nine before finishing her round well in the hunt after a two-over-par 74 in wild conditions on her major championship debut.

The 19-year-old was in a tie for 23rd after upstaging her more-fancied compatriots Minjee Lee and Hannah Green, who also remain in contention after staging spirited back-nine fightbacks on the windswept Scottish links course.

But Kyriacou took centre stage after posting a rare birdie on the famous par-3 eighth "Postage Stamp" hole.

"Oh, my God, that tee shot is so scary," she said.

"Yeah, the wind was coming off the left and I had a little wedge.

"I was hoping I wouldn't miss the green.

"I had a perfect number. I put it to about five foot and holed the putt.

"Felt good."

The precocious youngster - who earned her spot in the field with a commanding eight-shot win at the Australian Ladies Classic at Bonville in February - also birdied the fifth and 10th holes before taking a double bogey on the 12th as the world's best players struggled in the brutal conditions.

Only three players broke par, with Amy Olson three strokes clear after a brilliant four-under 67 on a day when buffeting winds were clocked at 65 km/h.

Olson's fellow American Marina Alex and German Sophia Popov were tied for second at one under, with Katherine Kirk the leading Australian at one-over 72.

Kyriacou is six shots adrift of the lead but conditions are likely to result in some wild scoring over the next three days of play.

"I'm pretty happy with my round," Kyriacou said.

"I left a few shots out there but if you told me at the beginning of the day I was going to have two over, I'd be stoked.

"I did leave a few shots out there, so hopefully tomorrow just fix those mistakes and put myself in contention."

World No.8 Lee and 2019 PGA Championship winner Green both rebounded from horror front-nine 40s to be one shot behind Kyriacou after three-over-par 75s.

Green had successive double-bogeys on the eighth and ninth holes, then drop further shots on 12 and 15 before fighting back with two late birdies to stay in the mix for a second career major.

Lee was four over through six holes but didn't drop another shot for the rest of her otherwise impressive round.

Kirk shot two under on the back nine after a double-bogey seven on the sixth threatened to derail her.

Fellow Australians Sarah Kemp (75) and Su Oh (76) aren't out of it but Sarah Jane Smith and Whitney Hillier (both 78) and star amateur Gabriella Ruffels (79) have work to do to make the half-way cut.