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(Reuters) - Jang Ha-na of South Korea caught fire on the back nine with five birdies capped by one at the 18th for a five-under-par 66 and a one-shot lead after the opening round of the LPGA Marathon Classic in Sylvania, Illinois.
Jang, ranked 22nd in the world and a six-times winner on the Korean LPGA Tour, avoided a five-way tie for the lead with her birdie at the last at Highland Meadows Golf Club.
Tied for second were American Nannette Hill, Australian Sarah Kemp, Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa and Hsu Wei-ling of Taiwan.
One more stroke away were a dozen players on 68 including Koreans Kim Sei-young, Jenny Shin and Mirim Lee, Americans Angela Stanford and Brittany Lang, Canada's Alena Sharp, Caroline Masson of Germany and Dewi Claire Schreefel of the Netherlands.
Jang, 23, began solidly but quietly with a birdie at the third hole and pars on the other eight in her front nine.
The Seoul native jump-started her homeward half with a birdie on 10 and followed with three birdies in a row from the 12th. After a bogey at 15, she birdied the last for sole possession of the lead.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes