Defending champion Suzann Pettersen of Norway put herself in early contention for her second straight US LPGA victory in South Korea yesterday.
The world No. 2 shot a three-under 69 to open the US$1.9 million LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship on Ocean Course at Sky72 Golf Club in Incheon, west of Seoul.
That put her in a seven-way tie for sixth, two shots off the pace set by four golfers, including former major champion Anna Nordqvist of Sweden.
At last year’s tournament, Pettersen defeated Catriona Matthew in a playoff. She went on to pick up four more US wins and another in Europe, climbing up to No. 2 in the world rankings behind Inbee Park of South Korea.
Pettersen mixed in five birdies with two bogeys on the par-72, 5,819m course.
Pettersen was joined on 69 by six others, including former world No. 1 Shin Ji-yai of South Korea and Michelle Wie of the US.
Park played with Pettersen in the opening round, and shot a 70 to stay within striking distance. She started off with three birdies on the back nine, but had back-to-back bogeys on the 12th and 13th. She picked up her final birdie of the day on the par-3 17th.
Taiwan’s Candie Kung was tied for 51st after a two-over round of 74, with compatriot Yani Tseng a shot further back tied for 55th.
Additional reporting by staff writer