New Zealander Lydia Ko shot a superb seven-under par 64 to top the leader board after round one of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, which teed off this morning at TPC Kuala Lumpur.
The 20-year-old former world no. 1 got off to a strong start with birdies on the 1st, 6th, 7th, and 8th holes, followed by a further three on the back nine, to leave her one shot clear of second placed Su Oh from Australia, who led for much of the round.
Three dropped shots by the Australian after the turn leaves her in second place, a shot ahead of trio Eun-Hee Ji of Korea, Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden, and defending champion Shanshan Feng of China.
Asked how it felt to shoot her best opening round of the year, Ko said:
“I guess you never really know, because when you’re out there, you never think about, ‘hey, what’s my lowest round’ and all that. When you’re out there playing, you’re just trying to make as many birdies as you can and be in a good rhythm.
“I think playing well on the weekend last week really helped me coming into this week. I tried to stay positive, and every shot I hit, I tried to commit to it,” added Ko.
Asked if her first ever round at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia met her expectations, Oh said:
“No, actually I didn’t have very high expectations. I just went out there and just played one shot at a time. I was off really early, and it was really dark when I got here.”
With a record around the East Course that has seen her finish in the top two for the last four years, eyes will continue to be on Feng. Speaking after a strong first round, she said:
“I think I just started the round, [saying] ‘5-under is my goal today’, and actually, 5-under [is what I got]. I’m not happy how I scored but if you look at my round, my ball-striking was super. I left myself so many birdie chances. I actually missed a couple out there. I think that’s a good thing to do. I think that means maybe I can still make more on the weekend. I think it’s a good start.”
Among the eight Malaysians competing in the US$ 1.8 million purse event, it was newly-turned pro Nur Durriyah, and amateurs Winnie Ng and Natasha Oon who lead way for Malaysia. All three posted highly respectable first round scores, finishing at one-over par, and tied in 41st place – alongside such esteemed company as world no.1 So Yeon Ryu, and multiple tour winner, Ariya Jutanugarn.