(Reuters) - Brittany Lincicome took advantage of rain-softened conditions and a deft touch on the greens as she charged into contention at the Kingsmill Championship on Thursday in Williamsburg, Virginia.
The long-hitting American, who totaled just 28 putts, fired a sparkling five-under-par 66 on the River Course at Kingsmill Resort in pursuit of her first LPGA win of the year.
With the course playing long and soft after heavy rain this week, Lincicome racked up six birdies and a lone bogey to finish the opening round level with defending champion Minjee Lee of Australia, a stroke behind pacesetting Japanese Mika Miyazato.
Americans Gerina Piller and Jennifer Song, and Germany’s Sandra Gal, were among a group of eight players who opened with 67s while New Zealand’s world number one Lydia Ko, back in LPGA action after a two-week break, carded a two-over 73.
”Finally got the putter rolling my way, which was nice, especially when I had the three to five-footers to save par,“ Lincicome, a six-times winner on the LPGA Tour, told reporters. ”Those were going in consistently.
”The greens were faster this year than I’ve ever see them in my life ... so that was obviously something I had to adjust to when I got out there because I couldn’t be as aggressive as I wanted to be.
“I figured it out early and had some birdies, which was fun.”
Lincicome, a double major winner, has traditionally struggled on the River Course where her best finish in nine previous starts was a tie for 23rd in 2006.
The marquee grouping of Ko, South Korean world number two Park In-bee (74) and third-ranked American Lexi Thompson (72) failed to spark as they struggled to a collective six-over-par in the opening round.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue