Lydia Ko started her quest for the most important prize in girls’s golf historical past by hitting a tree and making a bogey on a par 5. The remainder of Thursday within the CME Group Tour Championship couldn’t have gone higher.
Ko responded with eight birdies, together with 4 in a row late within the spherical at Tiburon Golf Membership, that despatched her to a 7-under 65 and a one-shot lead within the LPGA Tour season finale.
A lot is at stake this week, even past the $2 million prize to the winner.
Ko has a one-point lead within the race for LPGA Tour participant of the 12 months. She would look like a lock to win the Vare Trophy for the bottom scoring common. Each are value a degree in her bid to qualify for the LPGA Corridor of Fame.
“If I’m holding the trophy, holding all of the trophies or no trophy … I simply wish to have a great week,” Ko stated. “These alternatives don’t come alongside fairly often. I wish to attempt to seize it when it’s there.”
It’s all proper in entrance of Ko, who has two wins in what she considers her most constant 12 months on the LPGA Tour. And proper behind are loads of challengers.
Danielle Kang and Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand have been at 66, Gemma Dryburgh of Scotland and Hyo Joo Kim of South Korea have been at 67 and the group at 68 included Nelly Korda and Brooke Henderson.
Korda missed 4 months earlier this 12 months due to surgical procedure for a blood clot in her left arm. She lastly is again to full energy, and her victory final week up the coast at Pelican Golf Membership allowed her to return to No. 1 within the girls’s world rating.
Henderson needed to withdraw final week with again ache, and the Canadian wasn’t even positive she would be capable of play. However she made an adjustment in her swing, and it allowed her to get round Tiburon with a good 68.
Henderson has an outdoor shot at participant of the 12 months, although she must win and have Ko and Minjee Lee end third or worse.
Lee, who already has set an LPGA Tour document with $3.7 million in earnings this season, opened with a 71. Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand, the 19-year-old who reached No. 1 on the earth till Korda took it again, had a 73.
Ko may solely snort at her begin of the event by hitting a tree.
“It’s nearly like I had two tee photographs,” she stated. “Though I bogeyed a par 5, I knew loads of holes have been going to play downwind. I attempted to not get too annoyed. The primary 4 holes into the wind are a beast. I knew if I may cling on and be affected person, there can be quite a lot of alternatives.
“I used to be in a position to seize quite a lot of them on the again 9.”
And that began with a par. She was fast on a chip from simply off the thirteenth inexperienced and watched it run some 12 ft by the outlet. Ko made the par putt, and she or he was off and operating, making 4 straight birdies. It helped that two have been par 5s.
Korda gave up a straightforward birdie probability on the par-5 seventeenth when she drove it so lengthy that she had solely 159 yards left. However she got here up effectively quick and didn’t rise up and down. That was a product of what she known as getting fooled too usually by the top.
Korda had an opportunity in any respect the awards final 12 months till Jin Younger Ko beat her, making it the third straight 12 months the South Korean star had gained at Tiburon.
Making it 4 in a row will probably be tough. Jin Younger Ko opened with a 72 as she continues to take care of an ailing left wrist.