Former number ones overshadow Ko in Singapore

Thu Mar 5, 2015 3:28am EST
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By John O'Brien

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Lydia Ko's meteoric rise to the top of women's golf has shown little sign of slowing down but the New Zealand teen was forced to take a back seat to a pair of former number ones at the HSBC Women's Champions on Thursday.

The 17-year-old phenomenon arrived in Singapore fresh from her Australian and New Zealand Open victories and an opening round four-under 68 at the testing Serapong Course put her well in contention for a hat-trick just two shots off the lead.

"I'm tired. A little bit jet-lagged because of the long flight but I've been trying to pace myself, go nine holes and do the least amount of practice," Ko told reporters before turning her attention to the searing Singapore temperatures.

"I think just this week, the heat is definitely going to get to me, so I'm just going to try and cool down."

Ko's predecessor at the top of the rankings Park In-bee made the most of cooler early conditions to fire a bogey-free six-under 66 to claim a tie for first place along with Taiwan's Yani Tseng, who is showing glimpses of a return to form after a two-year slump.

American Angela Stanford, who won the restricted field $1.4 million event in 2012, sits alone in third place on five-under, with Ko lurking in a group of five players two off the pace on a day of low scoring at the Sentosa Golf Club.

Fellow American Lexi Thompson had the shot of the day, an ace on the par-three 14th, to sit in another group of five players on three-under for the tournament.

Park claimed she was keen to regain the world number one ranking when Ko usurped her at the start of February and her play on Thursday indicated the South Korean was motivated by that desire to get back to the top.   Continued...

Aug 16, 2014; Pittsford, NY, USA; Lydia Ko hits her tee shot on the 6th hole during the third round of the Wegman's Championship golf tournament at Monroe Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports