Nasa Hataoka was the final golfer to tee off yesterday, but she saved the best for last with three late birdies to surge into a tie with Amy Yang on day one of the Buick LPGA Shanghai.
The Japanese world No. 4 was three shots off the South Korean’s pace, but birdied three of the final six holes en route to a five-under-par 67 at Qizhong Garden Golf Club.
Jessica Korda’s six birdies were tempered by a pair of bogeys that left her tied for third with fellow American Angel Yin in the US$2.1 million tournament in just its second year.
World No. 6 Brooke Henderson of Canada hammered in an eagle on the 17th to finish with a three-under 69 along with several others, including last year’s winner, Danielle Kang of the US.
However, the world’s top-ranked woman golfer, Ko Jin-young of South Korea, will need to regroup for the second round.
Ko has won two of the past four tournaments she has played and is a two-time major winner this year, but she failed to find a rhythm in Shanghai, enduring four bogeys to finish five strokes back at even-par.
New Zealand’s former world No. 1 Lydia Ko looked strong at times with six birdies, but three bogeys spoiled her card. Still, Ko finished the first round within range of the leaders at 69.
Lydia Ko, now 22, was the youngest world No. 1 as a 17-year-old and was widely expected to be a dominant force for years to come.
However, she has slumped to No. 31, rarely making a tournament top-10 this year and missing the cut at the Women’s British Open in August by a whopping 10 strokes.
Taiwan’s Hsu Wei-ling carded a three-over 75 to finish tied for 53rd.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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