Mel Reid not only has resurgent form on her side at the US Women’s Open – not to mention the rumours of a close family connection to this year’s course – but she also has the insight of Brooks Koepka.
The Englishwomen revealed it was the advice of the four-time major winner that helped her to a remarkable first round, four-under 67 at the severe Lake Course.
Reid declared on the eve of the biggest major in the female game that “par will be a great score here”, so this was a genuinely notable display. And she was quick to credit her neighbour and regular playing partner down in Jupiter, South Florida.
“I texted Brooks on Tuesday and we had a long conversation and then we FaceTimed for an hour,” Reid said. “He gave me a few things that he swears by in a major. What he told me was invaluable. I’m just trying to be a bit more like Brooks.”
The 33-year-old’s four-under heroics, featuring five birdies and one bogey, handed her an early one-shot clubhouse lead over American Angel Yin in San Francisco and that was the very least she deserved. It could genuinely prove to be a golden gateway to her first major title and Britain’s first female major on US soil in more than three decades.
“I didn’t think that score was out there,” Reid said. “The gameplan is if you’re in trouble, just get it out and make bogey.”
Reid could even have another factor on her side. Wilfrid Reid, the original designer of the Lake Course in 1917, is reported to be a relative.
“Apparently he’s my great uncle,” Reid said. “I was thinking about it, and his middle name was Arthur. My dad’s name is Arthur after his granddad and he’s also from Nottingham. It’s just down the road from our hometown of Derby, so it actually makes a lot of sense.”
Reid was definitely the architect of her own rise. With the wind picking up for the afternoon starters, Reid took advantage of the early conditions. It was chilly, but Reid’s putter was hot as she played her first nine holes in four-under.
The dropped shot came on the malevolent 320-yard 18th (Reid had started on the ninth), but she got back on track with six pars in a row on the front side. With a birdie on the driveable par-four seventh (her 17th), Reid, the world No 33, handed her efforts further lustre to move one clear of Yin.
Since winning her first title on American soil last October, Reid has racked up five top-15s on the US Tour, with her tie for ninth in the LPGA Match Play two weeks ago highlighting her good form.
A gauge of the severity of the Lake Course was provided by Reid’s countrywomen Charley Hull firing a 75 and Georgia Hall labouring to a 77, despite being three-under through four holes. They were in good company. Nelly Korda, the top-ranked American at world No 4, slumped to a 78.
On the PGA Tour, Collin Morikawa took an early lead in the Memorial clubhouse courtesy of a six-under 66, with fellow American Adam Long one behind at Muirfield Village, Ohio. Ireland’s Shane Lowry shot a 69 to emphasise his efforts to qualify for the Ryder Cup.