Japan’s Ai Miyazato put on a performance to match the sizzling heat as she fired a five-under 67 to take the first-round lead at the Honda LPGA Thailand tournament yesterday.
Miyazato, who won the same tournament two years ago, took a one-shot lead over Australian veteran Karrie Webb, as well as Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and South Koreans Amy Yang, Pak Se-ri and Choi Na-yeon, who all shot 68.
The Japanese player set the Siam Country Club course alight with five birdies and no bogeys.
“I’m really excited, but I feel very tired. It’s been a long day. I think it must be the heat,” said Miyazato, who hardly made a mistake in her round.
Pre-tournament favorite and world No. 1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan could not find her rhythm and had to be content with a one-over 73. Her fellow Taiwanese were better placed, with Candie Kung tied for 18th after a one-under 71 and Amy Hung tied for 26th after an even-par 72.
Making the early pace were Webb and Nordqvist.
“Four birdies and no bogeys. I’m pretty happy with that,” said Webb, ranked 20th in the world.
“The conditions, apart from the heat, were good,” she said, speaking for many players who battled sweltering conditions.
Stacy Lewis of the US had looked to be poised to take the first-round lead when she arrived at the 18th hole on five-under, but a disastrous triple-bogey eight at the last ruined what had been a good day. Her anguish was apparent as she threw her putter into her bag in disappointment, having to settle for a 70, tied for ninth place.
Leading the local challenge was Numa Gulyanamitta, who shot a three-under 69 to tie for seventh place, a fine performance in only her second LPGA outing.
Among the crowd favorites, Paula Creamer had a roller-coaster start. Despite shooting a hole-in-one at the 12th, she ended with a relatively modest round of even-par 72.
Last year’s runner-up Michelle Wie struggled with a 75, while teenage prodigy Alexis “Lexi” Thompson of the US did not have the best of days with a 73.
Additional reporting by staff writer