KAPOLEI, Hawaii (AP) — South Korea’s Se Ri Pak, Hyo Joo Kim and So Yeon Ryu each shot a 4-under 68 on Wednesday for a three-way tie atop the leaderboard after a breezy first round of the LPGA LOTTE Championship.
Winless in 2013, Pak played the back nine in 2-under 34 in her afternoon round. She had birdies on the par-5 13th and par-4 17th, to go along with an eagle on the par-5 5th.
Kim, the 2012 China Ladies Open champion, had five birdies. She had her only bogey on her final hole of the day on the par-4 9th.
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So Yeon Ryu shot a 4-under 68 on Wednesday to take the lead halfway through a windy first round of the LPGA LOTTE Championship.
Japan’s Ayako Uehara was one stroke back.
Ryu, the 2012 LPGA Rookie of the Year, had five birdies and one bogey. She birdied three of the first five holes, teeing off from the front nine into the wind.
Ryu said she was able to clear her mind with a week off after a bad result at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, where she tied for 46th.
“I really don’t think about score or my performance. I just focus on the present, not worry about any (potentially) difficult holes,” Ryu said.
Top-ranked Inbee Park shot a 2-under 70. Park had four birdies and two bogeys.
“I got off to a really good start today. Obviously, the wind wasn’t blowing as hard for my first five holes,” Park said. “The greens seem a little bit more slippery and I had troubles on the back nine controlling the distance. You have to have perfect contact to ride the wind.”
The field of 144 starters contended with winds gusting about 20 mph throughout the morning, according to the National Weather Service.
So Young Lee is tied for third with Park. Lee said she wasn’t intimidated by the conditions at Ko Olina Golf Club, located in a resort area on Oahu’s west side.
“The wind here is less that where I play (at home), so that was not a factor,” she said. “I want to continue to play the way I did today for the rest of the week.”
No. 4 rookie star Lydia Ko, 2012 LOTTE champion Ai Miyazato, local favorite Michelle Wie and Anna Nordqvist, vying for her third win in 2014, were among the afternoon starters. Nordqvist’s 2014 wins include the LPGA Thailand and Kia Classic.
Wie returns to her hometown after a runner-up finish at the first major championship of the season, the Kraft Nabisco, at Mission Hills.