NEWS
08/25/2016 17:17 EDT | Updated 08/26/2017 01:12 EDT

Meadow birdies last two holes to take early Canadian Women's Open lead

PRIDDIS, Alta. — Stephanie Meadow didn't mind the inclement weather conditions during the first round of the LPGA's Canadian Open on Thursday.

After a lightning delay that lasted nearly three hours, Meadow didn't miss a beat as she birdied her final two holes to leapfrog a group of three players to sit atop the leaderboard at 6-under 66 following the completion of the morning round.

Golfers also had to battle windy, rainy and chilly conditions, which Meadow often endured while growing up in Jordanstown, Northern Ireland.

"My caddie always jokes that when it's windy I always play great, so I guess that's kind of my deal," said Meadow, who had seven birdies and one bogey on Thursday on the 6,622-yard, par 72 layout at Priddis Greens Golf and Country Club. "Being from Ireland, that's just part of it.

"It's nice to know that I can play in those conditions. I've done it a lot, even though it's when I was little, but I've still done it and scored, so I know I can do it."

The group tied for second at 67 includes Lydia Ko, the Olympic silver medallist from New Zealand, who is No. 1 in the Rolex women's world golf rankings.

"I played solid — birdied the first hole straight off the bat, so when you make a birdie in the first round on the first hole, it gives you good momentum," said Ko, who has won the Canadian Open in three of the past four years including last year at the Vancouver Golf Club in Coquitlam, B.C., when she beat American Stacy Lewis in a playoff.

South Korea's Mirim Lee held the early lead of 5 under through 13 holes when players were shuttled off the course due to a lightning delay at 11:44 a.m. MST.

When play resumed nearly three hours later at 2:40 p.m., Lee bogeyed the 14th hole before bouncing back with a birdie on 15 and three straight pars to card a score of 67 to take the early clubhouse lead.

Mi Jung Hur, also of South Korea, then birdied the 18th hole just after Lee signed her scorecard to pull into a tie for the lead.

"I was here about seven years ago … and I have good memories," said Hur, who finished in a tie for 16th the last time the Canadian Open was held in Priddis in 2009. "But this year the conditions are super nice. The greens are super fast. I think this is the fastest greens I've ever had on the Tour."

Ko finished her round of 67 a short time later before Meadow vaulted into the clubhouse lead thanks to her back-to-back birdies.

Scheduled to begin at 12:25 p.m., the afternoon rounds didn't get under way until 3:15 p.m.

Through nine holes, France's Karine Icher had risen up the leaderboard to sit in a four-way tie for second spot at 5 under.

Brooke Henderson, the 18-year-old from Smiths Falls, Ont. who is No. 3 in the Rolex rankings, was scheduled to tee off at 1:31 p.m., but didn't hit her first shot until nearly three hours later.

Henderson birdied her first hole and bogeyed her second before carding seven straight pars to sit at even through nine holes.

Toronto's Rebecca Lee-Bentham and Jessica Wallace, of Langley, B.C., were the top Canadians after the morning round as both shot scores of 2-under 70.

"It was up and down," said Lee-Bentham, who bogeyed her final hole. "I had two three-putts today. It's a little frustrating because the greens are tough here but overall it was a solid round."

Playing in her last LPGA event, Bentham will retire at the age of 24 after the tournament. She's been playing the Symetra Tour, the official developmental golf tour of the LPGA Tour, where uncertainty and expenses have caused her to rethink her future, including a possible return to school.

The $2.25-million Canadian Open was last held in Priddis, southwest of Calgary, in 2009 and runs through Sunday with 153 golfers in the field.

Now sponsored by Canadian Pacific, the purse includes $337,500 for the winner.