Intense battle for the lead – four tied on top after round 1

Just like today’s weather, the battle for the top is fiery and intensely hot at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia 2011. Names were put up and brought down like airport timetables.

After lunch, the first names topping the list were Americans Brittany Lang and Dewi Claire Schreefel of the Netherlands, but by tea time Korean Na Yeon Choi and Swede Maria Hjorth joined the duo at the top. They shared the first round lead after posting matching five-under-par 66s at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club’s (KLGCC) East Course.

The quartet’s lead is far from comfortable as they only have a one shot advantage from Paige Mackenzie of the United States and Spain’s Azahara Munoz on a day of low scores despite the sweltering conditions. Behind them, six golfers are tied for seventh place on three-under-par, namely Christian Boeljon of the Netherlands, World No. 2 Suzann Pettersen of Norway, China’s Shanshan Feng, Korea’s I.K. Kim and Americans Stacy Lewis and Michelle Wie.

Tied in 13th spot, but lurking menacingly are World No. 1 Yani Tseng of Chinese Taipei and defending champion Jimin Kang ofKorea. The duo posted similar score of 69 along with four other players.

Leading the Malaysian challenge is 18-year-old amateur Aretha Pan, who carded a four-over-par 75 to lie in tied 55th spot in the field of 72 players.

“I think I’ll just follow my plan, just hit the fairways and greens, and let the putter do the job, and the score will come down by itself,” said Aretha, who finished tied 57th last year when the field size was 60.

The only Malaysian professional in the field, Jean Chua, carded a 76 as did another Malaysian amateur, Ainil Johani. The country’s leading lady amateur, Kelly Tan, came back with a disappointing 77.

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