Japan’s Ai Miyazato set a course record on Thursday, carding a nine-under 63 to take a two-shot lead after the first round of the LPGA Tour’s Founders Cup tournament.
Miyazato, who finished second in this event last year, leads South Korea’s Lee Jee-young, who equaled the previous course record at Wildfire Golf Club with a seven-under 65.
“I hit the ball well and my putting was really good,” Miyazato said of bogey-free round. “I think I had good course management as well and I could control myself really well, too, so it was a good day.”
Taiwan’s Candie Kung, Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum and Americans Gerina Piller and Brittany Lang shared third place after they shot rounds of 66.
Australian Katherine Hull-Kirk, Sandra Gal, Jiyai Shin and Lexi Thompson are one shot adrift in seventh at 67.
“You know, it’s just beautiful out there,” Miyazato said. “It’s just always nice to play in this tournament, it’s very enjoyable, and I just had a good feeling this morning.”
Indeed as Miyazato began her round with a birdie at the opening hole followed by three consecutive pars.
She made two more birdies at No. 5 and the eighth, before making the turn at three-under.
Miyazato tacked on another birdie at the 11th as she was able to charge up the leaderboard by picking up five shots over a four-hole stretch.
Her hot streak included a birdie at No. 14, followed by an eagle at the par-five 15th.
She then posted back-to-back birdies at the 16th and 17th before closing with a par at the last.
Defending champ Yani Tseng of Taiwan posted a two-under 70 in her first round to take a share of 39th place.
Tseng’s compatriot Amy Hung also posted a two-under 70.
TAMPA BAY CHAMPIONSHIP
AFP, TAMPA, Florida
USPGA Tour rookie Shawn Stefani had six birdies en route to a six-under 65 to seize a two-shot lead after the opening round of the US$5.5 million Tampa Bay Championship on Thursday.
The 31-year-old American is coming off a season-best tie for 39th at the Puerto Rico Open last week.
Additional reporting by staff writer