Spain’s Beatriz Recari, the US’ Ryann O’Toole and Italy’s Giulia Sergas shared the lead after Thursday’s first round of the LPGA Championship, with top-ranked Yani Tseng seven strokes adrift.
Recari, Sergas and O’Toole each fired three-under-par 69s to sit atop the leaderboard after day one of the US$2.5 million major championship, which also served as the pro debut for Tiger Woods’ niece, Cheyenne Woods, who shot 75.
Recari began on the back nine, took a bogey at the 11th and then birdied three holes in a row, starting at the par-4 14th on her way to the top of the leaderboard.
“It definitely feels great,” Recari said.
“I had a great feeling on the greens. I was just seeing the line, putting a good stroke and most of them dropped in,” she added.
One shot behind the co-leaders were Japan’s Ai Miyazato and Mika Miyazato, the US’ Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer, and South Koreans Pak Se-ri, Choi Na-yeon and Jeong Jang.
However, defending champion Tseng of Taiwan, a five-time major champion at age 23 and winner in three of the first five LPGA tournaments of the season, matched her worst round of the year, a 76, to put herself in danger of missing the cut.
“I just couldn’t hit a shot, couldn’t hit on the green, couldn’t hit on the fairway,” Tseng said.
“It was really tough for me out there. I was very disappointed. I love the golf course and I know I can have a low score here,” she added.
Tseng opened and closed her round with bogeys, managed birdies only on the par-4 third and 16th holes,and took bogeys at the par-3 fifth and seventh holes, nd the par-4 12th and 13th as well.
“I know it’s my mental problem,” Tseng said. “I’m hitting so well on the driving range, and when I get on the first tee there’s something wrong. I need to get my mental set-up like before, at the beginning of this year.”
Woods, playing on a sponsor’s exemption, qualified for the US Women’s Open last week and was excited about launching her pro career although she, too, was struggling to reach the weekend at Locust Hill Country Club.
“I’ve been waiting, waiting for this moment,” Woods said.
“I was a little nervous starting off, but it felt good to be out there and finally playing. I’m pretty happy with how I played. I had a few blips,” she added.
Pak, who was sidelined for two months with a torn left shoulder labrum, began the back nine with three birdies in a row to start a run into contention.
“I feel great to be back,” Pak said. “I never expected it would be a solid round. I’m trying to get the feel for it. Low expectations help a lot.”