World No. 1 Stacy Lewis carded what she described as an ‘ugly’ six-under-par 65 to lead the first round of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.
“It was kind of one of those rounds that early it was actually kind of shaky and had to make a few par putts on the first three holes, but really just kind of hung in there and gave myself a lot of birdie looks at it and was fortunate to make a few. So it was a little bit of an ugly round, but I got a lot out of it,” said Lewis.
The early pace was set by Ryu, who picked up a birdie on the first hole, followed by four consecutive birdies on holes four to seven, together with a further three on the back nine. The winner of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August dropped shots on the ninth, 14th and 15th holes but was happy to be back in Malaysia.
“This is definitely one of my favorite stops on the Asian swing. The golf course is fabulous and great to play. They support so many junior golfers, so I feel always special to be here. Before I won the Canadian Open, I had a kind of big winning drought, so I don’t want to make another two‑year winning drought, so I really look forward to making another win in Malaysia,” said Ryu.
Tied in sixth place at four under par is Shanshan Feng from China, Pornanong Phatlum from Thailand and fellow Koreans Amy Yang, Jenny Shin and Mi Hyang Lee.
But it was a day to forget for defending champion Lexi Thompson. The 19-year-old shot five birdies but gave it all away on three holes, scoring two double bogeys and a bogey in succession on holes seven, eight and nine to finish on even par.
Michelle Koh led the local challenge with a one-over-par 73, finishing the day tied in 55th place alongside Charley Hull and Caroline Masson.
One of six Malaysian Angels competing in the 2014 edition, the 23-year-old said: “I will take it. I’ve got to say I got a little bit technical on the golf course in the beginning. Had a good start, but I sort of started leaning into the technical side, so I was hitting it bad in the middle, saved a few strokes, got the comeback, and hit it good. Didn’t make as many birdies as I would like but gave myself opportunities. Going to bring it to the next couple of days and sink another extra few birdies.”
One shot behind Koh are Aretha Pan and Ainil Bakar, both on two-over-par.
Top Malaysian player Kelly Tan got off to the worst possible start with a double bogey on the par four first hole, followed by a bogey on the third and a further double bogey on the 11th. A pair of birdies on the eighth and 15th holes kept the score respectable but she will be expecting better tomorrow.
Jean Chua and Michele Low are both a shot further back on four-over-par in joint 71st place alongside no less than World No.15 Paula Creamer.