BEIJING (AP) — American Jessica Korda and South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi shot 9-under 64 on Thursday to share the lead after the first round of the inaugural Reignwood LPGA Classic in Beijing, four strokes ahead of the rest of the field.
Choi birdied her last four holes, while Korda matched her career-best round. Neither made a bogey.
“I’m kind of going after it,” said Korda, who like Choi is looking for her first win of the season. “It seems to be a really good golf course. It suits my eye. I’m excited for what the next three days bring.”
Third-ranked Stacy Lewis of the United States (68) was in a tie for third place with South Koreans Hee Young Park and Hee Kyung Seo.
Top-ranked Inbee Park of South Korea was one of eight players another stroke back. She bogeyed two of her first four holes before recovering with six birdies.
With a fast start, Korda was alone in the lead before Choi’s late charge in the last group of the day.
“I feel I had a perfect game out there, especially those last four holes,” Choi said. “I didn’t expect to have four birdies on the finish.”
Choi rose as high as second in the rankings this season before falling back to sixth. She credited her improved play in part to the return of caddy Paul Fusco after a short break.
“Especially the last few months my putting didn’t work very well,” Choi said. “But today every time I went to putt, he would say, ‘Good aim,’ or gave me a lot of trust or confidence. I think that’s why my putting was working really well today.”
The event is the first LPGA tournament in China. The country’s only major winner, Shanshan Feng, shot a 70, one stroke behind compatriot Liying Ye.