Defending champion Anna Nordqvist picked up right where she left off last year by firing a 64 on Friday to move into a tie for the lead after the opening round of the ShopRite Classic. Nordqvist of Sweden, Ai Miyazato of Japan and Paula Reto of South Africa all shot seven-under par 64s at the par-71 Stockton Seaview Golf Club.
One shot behind them are Haru Nomura of Japan, Catriona Matthew of Scotland and Casey Grice of the US.
Eight players are at 66, including Americans Stacy Lewis, Stephanie Meadow and Amelia Lewis. Others are Beatriz Recari of Spain, Katherine Kirk of Australia, Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England, Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Canada and Christel Boeljon of France.
Australia’s Karrie Webb and South Korea’s Choi Na-yeon top a list of 11 players at 67.
Nordqvist set the tone when her putter got hot. She finished her opening nine with birdies at holes 16, 17 and 18, and started her second nine with a birdie at the first.
She added a birdie at the third before finishing with birdies at six, seven, eight and nine to finish her last 15 holes in nine-under.
Nordqvist said her strong iron play led to more birdies.
“Iron play has been one of my strengths and today I hit them close, and that is how you are going to make birdies out here,” she said. “I am stuffing them really close and I think seven of my birdies were inside six or seven feet.”
Reto and Miyazato were part of the same threesome. Miyazato won this tournament in 2010, but the former world No. 1 has not won a tournament in three-and-a-half years.
“Since the beginning of this year, my game is in good shape,” Miyazato said. “All I can do is just be patient.”
Taiwanese players Cheng Ssu-chia and Hsu Wei-ling carded 68 and 69 respectively, while compatriot Amy Hung struck a 77.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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