Scotland's Mhairi McKay matched her career-best round with an eight-under 63 on Thursday to seize a one-shot lead in the US$2.2 million LPGA Michelob Ultra Open.
McKay, 33, notched eight birdies in a flawless round that tied the Kingsmill course record and left her one stroke in front of former world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam of Sweden and South Korean Sun Young-yoo.
McKay will now try to parlay that lead into her first career LPGA Tour victory, to go with her five runner-up finishes on the tour and two international triumphs as a professional. The last of those was her victory in the 2003 Australian Women’s Open.
“I feel great, and I shot below my age on both nines,” McKay said.
McKay sank short birdie putts at three, six, seven and eight, then added birdies from the 25-foot range at the 11th and 14th. She wrapped up the round with birdies at 15 and 18.
“I just felt like for the last month or so, I’ve been hitting the ball really well,” McKay said. “In Orlando and Miami, I got off to good starts and maybe didn’t quite finish the week out as strongly as I would have wanted to. But I’ve been encouraged by the way I’m hitting the ball and maybe just not making as many putts as I would like.”
Sorenstam, the superstar who already boasts two wins this season as she bounces back from an injury-plagued year, had seven birdies in her seven-under 64.
Meanwhile, world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa kept herself within striking distance with a 65 that was highlighted by an eagle at the seventh.