Twenty-three-year old Thailand native Pornanong Phatlum fired an 8-under 64 in the first round of the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola and takes a one-shot lead over American teenager Lexi Thompson.
Australia's Sarah-Jane Smith is tied in sixth place after an opening round 5-under par 67. Sarah Kemp finished with a 68 to be tied in 20th place while Karrie Webb finished at 3 under following a 69.
Breanna Elliott, finished at two-under and is tied for 51st, while Julia Boland and Frances Bondad also finished one-under-par and are tied for 76th place. Lindsey Wright bogey the last to finish at even par and is tied for 100th, while Katherine Hull-Kirk is another two shots back and tied for 130th.
The fifth-year LPGA Tour member Phatlum carded 10 birdies and two bogeys at Columbia Edgewater Country Club and holds the first-round lead for the first time in her career. The round of 64 also marks the lowest first round of her career and second-lowest round overall. She shot 63 in the final round of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic earlier this season.
Phatlum said she has had recent struggles with her putter and came to Portland this week with a new model in the bag. Her new Odyssey No. 7 seemed to be the exact change she needed and drained just about every putt she lined up on Thursday and had a 22-putt total.
“Putting was so good,” said Phatlum. “This week I changed putter for this week and feeling very good. And I made many birdies today, like ten birdies today.
Phatlum won the unofficial HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup in 2012 and is playing for her first LPGA Tour victory. When asked if she’s ready to notch her first official win, Phatlum said she’s feels comfortable on the track at Columbia Edgewater
“I just try my best and I'm feeling very good with the course, the golf course,” said Phatlum. “I like the course, very nice.”
Lexi Thompson sits in solo second place after 18 holes of play and carded five birdies and an eagle on the par 5 7th hole in her bogey-free round. The Coral Springs, Florida native has made 40 starts since she won her first LPGA Tour title two years ago at the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic.
“I would say just my iron shots into the green,” said Thompson. “I hit a lot of good ones and I played the par 5s 4 under, so I took advantage of those. Overall I've just been working on the consistency of my game and working on tightening my shots up.”
Thompson’s round of 65 ties her low first-round score this season, tying her opening round at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic where she tied for 10th. That week in Alabama was also the only time this season she has lead after the first round. She said she’ll try to take advantage of her strong start this season.
“Every round is a learning experience,” said Thompson. “Obviously being close to the lead after the first round, you try to take that momentum into every other round after that. But it's golf so you have to take one shot at a time and not get ahead of yourself. That's all I'm going to do and try to take this into tomorrow.”
Americans Cristie Kerr and Lizette Salas and Germany’s Sandra Gal are in a tie for third and two shots back after each shooting 6-under 66 on Thursday. A group of 14 players are three shots off the lead at 5-under-par including Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis, 2010 Safeway Classic champion Ai Miyazato, former world No. 1 Yani Tseng and two-time LPGA Tour winner Michelle Wie.