A trio of South Koreans sits atop the leaderboard after battling gusty conditions throughout the first round of the LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf.
World Golf and LPGA Halls of Famer Se Ri Pak, Rolex Rankings No. 7 So Yeon Ryu and sponsor invite and No. 34 Hyo Joo Kim all shot 4-under 68 to take the lead after 18 holes at Ko Olina Golf Club. Steady winds of about 25 km/hr blew throughout the day while gusts reached the low 35km/hr.
Japan’s Ayako Uehara sits in solo fourth and one shot back at 3-under par. A group of five players are two shots off the lead in a tie for fifth including Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park, Hawaii native Michelle Wie, LPGA Tour rookie Amy Anderson and sponsor exemptions Ha Na Jang and So Young Lee of South Korea.
Of the Australians, Lindsey Wright leads the way, she posted a very credible one-under-par 71 to be tied for 10th position heading into round 2. Wright will be one of the first tomorrow at 7am local time. Katherine Hull signed for a 73 to be tied for 26th. Sarah Kemp was out early and carded a three-over-par, 75, to be a share of 57th. Sarah Jane Smith, Julia Boland and Stacey Keating are all tied for 93rd at five-over.
Ryu was the early leader in the clubhouse after carding five birdies and a bogey on the par 3 8th hole and said the wind was so strong at times it made reading putts difficult. The two-time LPGA Tour winner and 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion said her iron play was surprisingly sharp in the winds.
“The wind was pretty strong, so it was really hard to play with this much strong wind,” said Ryu. “The most difficult part was sometimes gust wind is super extremely strong, so also it was affecting the putting. It was really hard to read a line. The really good thing is my iron shot was really nice, so my birdie putt is almost just short.”
Pak had three birdies, a bogey and an eagle on the par 5 5th hole and recently went back to a crosshand grip in her putting stroke. The 25-time LPGA Tour winner said her father recommended the change and started her career in 1998 with the grip.
After tomorrow second round, the cut will be made to the Top 70 players and ties.