Australia’s Hannah Green yesterday shot a five-under-par 67 to finish the first round of the LPGA Japan Classic tied for the lead with local favorite Ai Suzuki.
Green carded five birdies at the par-72 Seta Golf Course to finish one stroke ahead of six golfers, including Lydia Ko and Jennifer Kupcho.
Ko had an erratic round that featured seven birdies, a double-bogey and a bogey in the final event of the LPGA Tour’s Asia Swing.
Two-time Japan Classic winner Shanshan Feng was three strokes back after a 70. Taiwan’s Teresa Lu, who won the Mizuno Classic in 2013, was four-under-par at the end of the first round, while Hsu Wei-ling of Taiwan was one-over-par.
Tiger Woods selected himself as one of his four captain’s picks to play for the US in next month’s Presidents Cup against an International team and said he was confident his creaky knee could stand up to the strain.
The 15-time major champion also named Tony Finau, Patrick Reed and Gary Woodland for the biennial tournament which pits the US against a team representing the rest of the world minus Europe.
Woods would be the first playing captain since Hale Irwin led the US to a 20-12 win in the inaugural event in Virginia in 1994.
Woods issued a timely reminder of his class by winning the Zozo Championship in Japan on Monday last week.
That victory saw him tie Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour wins and also gave him confidence in his left knee two months after having undergone arthroscopic surgery.
“The long haul to Australia is very much like the one to Japan, and seeing how my body felt and how I reacted in Japan and how I was able to play, it certainly gives me a lot of confidence that it will hold up over the long haul down to Australia,” he told reporters yesterday.
Woods overlooked Ryder and Presidents Cup mainstay Rickie Fowler, who has not played since the Tour Championship.
Former world No. 1 Jordan Spieth was also omitted for the Dec. 12 to 15 tournament at Royal Melbourne after struggling through a difficult season.
“Yeah, on paper, we certainly have the advantage in the world rankings,” Woods said. “When it comes right down to it, like I told the guys, when you start out on Thursday, it’s 0-0. We have to go out and win this Cup.”
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