Karine Icher had six birdies in a seven-hole stretch and shot a seven-under 65 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open.
“My putting was very good, and I think today I’ve seen the hole bigger than the other days,” the 36-year-old Frenchwoman said. “Sometimes you have days like that where everything works, so I’m quite happy with this one.”
Winless in 253 career LPGA Tour starts, Icher birdied on the second, fifth and sixth, as well as on holes eight through 11 at Vancouver Golf Club, then closed the bogey-free round with seven pars.
“When you make some birdies like that in a row, you have more and more confidence,” Icher said. “It’s always nice to have some rounds like that where you don’t have so much questions. You know the club, you take the club, you hit the shot, and it’s close to the pin.”
Two-time champion Lydia Ko was second after a 67. She birdied the final two holes.
“Hopefully, that will give me good momentum tomorrow, but playing in the morning and then afternoon tomorrow there is quite a bit of wait. I’ve just got to keep the positive attitude going,” Ko said.
Ko won in 2012 at Vancouver Golf Club at 15 years, 4 months to become the LPGA Tour’s youngest winner and fifth amateur champion. She successfully defended her title in 2013 as an amateur, winning by five strokes in Edmonton, Alberta. The 18-year-old from New Zealand has two victories this year.
“I think the biggest difference is me. I don’t have the glasses, and I feel much older, but it’s great to come back to a course where you’ve played well and the spectators have been great and they’ve been supporting me today, even in the practice rounds. It’s definitely a great where you feel really welcome” Ko said.
Stacy Lewis, I.K. Kim, Danah Bordner and Pernilla Lindberg shot 68. Winless this year, Lewis hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation.
“I don’t know if it’s the golf course necessarily, but I just played better than I’ve been playing lately,” Lewis said. “Things just seemed to click a little better today. I actually switched golf balls yesterday, so just tried a new golf ball today, and it was a lot better. I was able to free it up a little more.”
Kaohsiung-born Candie Kung of the US carded a three-under 69 to tie for seventh along with Amy Anderson of the US, Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist, England’s Charley Hull and Koreans Jang Ha-na and Kim Sei-young.
Taiwan’s Hsu Wei-ling carded a one-under to finish tied for 21st, Min Lee completed play with an even-par 72 to tie for 47th and Yani Tseng finished tied for 71 on one-over 73.
Canadian teen Brooke Henderson, coming off a victory on Sunday in the Portland Classic, opened with a 70. Henderson, 17, is the first Canadian to win on the tour since Lorie Kane in 2001.
“It was an amazing day today,” Henderson said. “The crowds were unbelievable, and just to be back home in Canada and playing in front of them was really cool. Today was a little bit up and down, but I was able to get it together a little more on the back nine and finish two-under.”
Top-ranked Inbee Park, the Women’s British Open winner in her last start, had a 71. She has a tour-high four victories this season.
Michelle Wie had a 74. Struggling with a left ankle injury, she’s playing for the first time since withdrawing during the second round of the Women’s British Open after slipping walking off a tee box.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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