German LPGA rookie Caroline Masson fired a seven-under 64 on Thursday to grab a two-shot lead after the first round of the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout.
Masson, who has missed the cut in four of her five previous starts this season, posted her best score on the LPGA Tour and had a two-stroke lead over Spain’s Carlota Ciganda — last year’s Rookie of the Year on the Ladies European Tour (LET).
World No. 1 Inbee Park of South Korea carded a four-under 67 to head a group sharing third place that also included compatriot Hur Mi-jung, England’s Felicity Johnson, and Americans Mo Martin and Kristy McPherson.
Amateur Taylor Coleman carded a three-under 68 to share eighth place with South Korean Park Hee-young and Christina Kim of the US.
Coleman, 16, qualified for the tournament via a High School Shootout qualifier on Monday.
Taiwan’s former world No. 1 Yani Tseng shot a two-under 69 to tie for 11th place.
The world No. 4 started well with three birdies and no bogeys on the front nine, but bogeyed the 12th and 14th holes.
Tseng started the year with two top-three finishes, but has finished no better than 28th in her previous four events.
Fellow Taiwanese Candie Kung shot one-over 72 to tie for 51st place, while compatriot Amy Hung labored to a three-over 74 to tie for 96th spot.
Masson nabbed seven birdies without a bogey and was unfazed by the north Texas wind.
“For some reason, I feel like I’m playing pretty good in the wind,” Masson said.
“My win on the LET in South Africa was also in really, really windy conditions and, yeah, I’m hitting it well, so I think the wind doesn’t affect my ball too much, and that will definitely help me throughout the week, but it’s just also important to just make some putts on these greens, because without putting well, I think you have no chance to shoot a really good round here. So it’s just all coming together, really,” she said.
Stacy Lewis, the world No. 2 who must finish fifth or better to have any chance of supplanting Park at the top the world rankings, bogeyed two of her final three holes en route to a one-over 72.
She will have her work cut out to catch Park, a solid putter, who was enjoying the speedy greens at Las Colinas.
“I love fast greens, rolling greens,” Park said. “I love the greens here.”
There will be a cut to the top 70 and ties following the second round yesterday, then as part of the shootout format there is a second cut today to further reduce the field.
Additional reporting by staff writer, with CNA