American defending champion Nelly Korda and Hur Mi-jung, a two-time winner this year, yesterday carded six-under-par 66s to share a one-stroke lead at the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA.
Korda claimed her maiden LPGA victory at last year’s event to join her elder sister, Jessica, as a winner on the circuit, extending a family sporting resume that also boasts a Grand Slam tennis title via father Petr.
“It’s definitely so special,” the 21-year-old said of being the defending champion, after carding three bogeys and seven birdies, as well as an eagle, to top the scoreboard.
“I’m recognized by so many people now and everyone is really rooting for me,” Korda said. “Hopefully, I can get it done, but there’s still a lot of golf to be played.”
South Korea’s Hur managed to stay bogey-free, despite hitting only six of 14 fairways on the rainy and windy first day at the Miramar Golf County Club in New Taipei City.
Fresh from a victory at the Volunteers of America Classic in Texas early last month, Hur won her first title of the year at the Ladies Scottish Open in August to snap a five-year LPGA win drought.
Australia’s Minjee Lee, runner-up to Korda in Taiwan last year, finished third on five-under-par with four birdies in the opening round.
Amateur Hou Yu-sang led the local talent, carding a two-under 70 for a share of 14th. Teresa Lu and amateur An Ho-yu were in a group sharing 29th on even-par 72.
Hsu Wei-ling, Chen Yu-ju and Cheng Ssu-chia finished on one-over 73 for a share of 37th, while Tsai Pei-ying and Chen Hsuan were tied for 50th on two-over 74.
Hsieh Yu-ling was in a group tied for 59th on three-over 75, followed by Lin Tzu-chi a further stroke back in a group sharing 69th.
Jessica Peng Chieh and Kuo Ai-chen carded five-over 77s for a share of 72nd and Chang Ching-ling was tied for 76th a further stroke behind, while amateurs Hsu Huai-chien and Lu Hsin-yu shared 78th on seven-over.
Babe Liu was 80th on eight-over and Lee Hsin was 81st a further stroke back.
Additional reporting by staff writer