18-year-old rookie Angela Park leads at the U.S. Women's Open after Thursday's action. Angela Park, 18, leads weather-delayed first round of U.S. Women's Open

SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. - There are 25 teenagers in the field of the U.S. Women's Open here at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club this week, and one of them is the tournament's early leader.

LPGA Tour Rookie Angela Park, 18, carded a 3-under-par-68 to reach the top of the leaderboard during an opening round Thursday that was ultimately suspended due to weather.

Afternoon thunderstorms delayed the completion of the first round. Play was suspended at 2:47 p.m, shortly after the final afternoon groups teed off. Thunderstorms in the area kept golfers off the course until 6:23 p.m. All afternoon players failed to complete their rounds before dark at 8:25 p.m.

Morning tee times, which included Park, all finished their rounds.

Among the morning group was Michelle Wie - who struggled from the start and shot a 44 on the back nine, including a six-over-par run over her last five holes to finish with an 82. She is in danger of missing the cut for the first time in a major championship in fifteen tries and sits behind all but two other players.

"It's frustrating because my score is not displaying how I'm playing at all," Wie told reporters.

Park, playing under the Brazilian flag, took advantage of a red-hot start, recording birdies on the first three holes. Her only bogey came on the 17th. Park has already held leads three other times this year but has no wins. She hopes that experience will help her hold on this week.

"I should look up to the other days and say, ‘I'm going to play like I played the first day and prepare myself the same way and not sit back and relax," she said.

"Coming in tomorrow I'll be more prepared and more relaxed and more confident about my game."

Twelve-year-old Alexis Thompson, the youngest to ever qualify for the Women's Open, is 3-over after nine holes. U.S. Women's Amateur champion Kimberly Kim, the youngest to ever win that event at 14 years old, sits at 5-over through 13.

The world's current No. 1, Lorena Ochoa, provided the biggest fireworks of the day - holing a fairway bunker shot 195 yards away for eagle on the par-4 14th hole.

"I had a really good feeling and I told (my caddie) Dave, I was almost joking, ‘can I hit my 5-wood please?' Because I knew he was wanting to talk to me about hitting my 7-wood," Ochoa said.

"I said just trust me, I like this one. And I hit it perfect."

Ochoa's fortunes turned on the 17th however, when her errant second shot kicked out of bounds, resulting in a double bogey and bringing her back to even par for the tournament.

Last year's champion, Annika Sorenstam, was at even par after thirteen holes before play was suspended.

Eleven players sit under par going into Friday. Nine are international players and five are South Korean. Three players sit at two under but have holes left to play in their first round going into Friday.

The afternoon groups affected by the delay Thursday will finish their rounds Friday morning starting at 7:30 a.m. Second round tee times have been pushed back two hours and fifteen minutes from their original time.

June 29, 2007

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker.

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