Japan’s Nasa Hataoka and South Korea’s Amy Yang shot 5-under-par rounds of 67 on Thursday to share the lead after the first round of the Buick LPGA Shanghai at Qizhong Garden Golf Club.
They hold a one-shot cushion over Americans Jessica Korda and Angel Yin. Canadian Brooke Henderson, New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, Americans Jennifer Kupcho and Danielle Kang and the England trio of Mel Reid, Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Bronte Law are another shot off the pace at 3 under.
Kang is the defending champion. World No. 1 Jin Young Ko is five shots back after carding an opening-round 72. She is in a tie for 24th in a group that also includes fellow South Korean Jeongeun Lee6, who has secured Rookie of the Year honors.
American Cheyenne Knight, coming off her maiden LPGA Tour victory at the Volunteers of America Classic, struggled to a 3-over 75.
Hataoka got her round going with three birdies over her first four holes. The lone blemish on her scorecard came with a bogey on the par-5 ninth hole, but she was able to card three more birdies on the back nine.
Hataoka has two wins on the JLPGA among five consecutive top-7 finishes between that tour and the LPGA.
Yang also had a lone bogey on her scorecard, coming on the par-4 eighth hole. She made the turn in 3-under 33 with four birdies on the front nine, and poured in two more on Nos. 13 and 14. Yang hit 17 of 18 greens on Thursday.
“I’m happy how I played today,” Yang said. “My swing felt very stable out there and hit some lot of solid shots out there and making some good putts, so it’s been a good round.”
All four of Yang’s LPGA Tour victories have come in Asia, including the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.
“We have 54 more holes to go,” the 30-year-old said. “I have been working hard, so I would like to see some good results in this Asia swing.”
NOTES: American Brittany Altomare, who started her round on the back nine, carded a hole-in-one on the par-3 second hole. She won a 2019 Buick Lacrosse Avenir for the ace. It was the 26th hole-in-one on Tour this season, with each one coming from a different player. ... This is the first of four events on the LPGA Tour’s Asia swing. ... The field features 17 of the 20 winners on the Tour in 2019. ... Jin Young Ko leads the Tour in official money ($2.63 million), scoring average (68.851) and greens in regulation (79.9 percent). ... Ariya Jutanugarn leads the Tour in eagles (18) and birdies (341).
--Field Level Media
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