Choi Na-yeon, Suzann Pettersen and Jodi Ewart Shadoff fired four-under-par 68s on Thursday to share the first round lead at the LPGA Kraft Nabisco, the first major of the season.
Both South Korea’s Choi and Norway’s Pettersen had four birdies with no bogeys on the par-72 Dinah Shore tournament course at Mission Hills, while England’s Ewart Shadoff had six birdies and two bogeys.
Ewart Shadoff had seized the outright lead with four holes to play thanks to a four-birdie burst starting at the par-five 11th, but she gave back a stroke with her second bogey of the day at the 16th.
“I’ve been playing really consistently the last three or four tournaments,” Ewart Shadoff said. “And so I knew my game is right there, and I knew I was due to have a really good round.”
Choi, ranked third in the world, teed off on 10 and picked up her first birdie at the 14th, draining a 30-footer from the fringe.
A brace of birdies at 16 and 17 was followed by nine pars before she punctuated her round with a birdie at the par-five ninth.
Pettersen also started on the back nine and came alive with three birdies in a row from the 16th.
Her only other birdie came at the par-four-seventh.
American Stacy Lewis, playing her first major championship since toppling Taiwan’s Yani Tseng from the top of the world rankings, settled for a one-over par 73 that included a triple-bogey six at the par-three 14th.
Tseng was among a big group on even-par 72, which also included Hall of Famers Karrie Webb of Australia and Pak Se-ri of South Korea — along with 15-year-old New Zealand prodigy Lydia Ko.
Tseng can reclaim the world No. 1 ranking from Lewis with a victory this week.
Taiwan’s Candie Kung was tied for 70th after a three-over-par round of 75.
Additional reporting by staff writer