Korda shoots 9-under 63 for Lotte lead
Nelly Korda, looking for her third LPGA win since October, fired a bogey-free, 9-under-par 63 on Wednesday to take the first-round lead at the Lotte Championship in Kapolei, Hawaii.
Korda produced nine birdies at Ko Olina Golf Club to grab a one-stroke edge over South Korea's Eun-Hee Ji.
"I made some good putts," she said. "I had a really solid front nine; shot 6 under. When I got an opportunity, I took it."
Defending champion Brooke Henderson of Canada and Hyejin Choi of South Korea are two shots back, one stroke ahead of both South Korea's So Yeon Ryu and Australia's Hannah Green.
Ten players are tied for seventh at 5 under par.
Korda, a 20-year-old Florida native, broke through with her first career LPGA victory last fall at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship, and she followed that up with a win in the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open in February. She is currently ranked 10th in the world.
Korda said Tiger Woods' win at the Masters was a good motivator this week.
"I think I posted something on my story that I had, like, no motivation and I needed to go work out, and then I just thought of Tiger," she said. "I wonder if he would be in this position? Probably not.
"I'm going to go work out."
She alternated birdies and pars over her first six holes, then birdied Nos. 7-9 to make the turn at 6-under 30. Three more birdies, including one at No. 18 capped her round.
Ji shot a 30 on the back nine, closing with six birdies in the final eight holes, and she finished without a bogey.
Henderson's day included a bogey on her first hole, No. 10, and an eagle at the par-4 15th hole.
"I bogeyed my first hole but kind of hung in there," Henderson said. "The chip-in on 15 for eagle really was a big help and kind of got my momentum back.
"Yeah, really happy to finish at minus-7 and hopefully just keep doing it the next three days."
Choi could have shared the lead with Korda had she birdied No. 9, her last hole of the day. Instead, she carded her lone bogey and dropped into a tie for third.
Jin Young Ko, competing in her first event as the world's No. 1 player, shot 3 under to sit tied for 29th. Ko, 23, won the season's first major, the ANA Inspiration, earlier this month.
--Field Level Media
© Copyright Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The information contained in this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Reuters Ltd.