Choi, Korda lead at Reignwood Classic in Beijing
BEIJING (AP) — American Jessica Korda and South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi both shot a 9-under 64 Thursday to share the lead after the first round of the inaugural Reignwood LPGA Classic in Beijing, four strokes ahead of the rest of the field.
Choi made four straight birdies from the 15th hole, while Korda picked up five shots on her first eight holes to match her career-low for the round. Neither made a bogey.
“I’m kind of going after it,” said Korda, who like Choi is looking for her first win of the season. “It seems to be a really good golf course. It suits my eye. I’m excited for what the next three days bring.”
Third-ranked Stacy Lewis of the United States was in a tie for third place after a 68, along with South Koreans Hee Young Park and Hee Kyung Seo.
Top-ranked Inbee Park of South Korea was one of eight players a further stroke back after bogeying two of her first four holes before recovering with six birdies.
Korda looked set to take sole possession of the lead before Choi’s late charge in the last group of the day. Choi said her run of birdies came as a surprise.
“I feel I had a perfect game out there especially those last four holes,” Choi said. “I didn’t expect to have four birdies on the finish. I finished very strong. I played one Korean tournament last week but I didn’t finish well so I didn’t expect to play well today, actually. I just tried to be more relaxed out there.”
Choi rose as high as second in the rankings this season before falling back to sixth place. She credited her improved play Thursday in part to the return of her caddy Paul Fusco after a short break.
“It helped a lot. Especially the last few months my putting didn’t work very well,” Choi said. “But today every time I went to putt, he would say good aim or gave me a lot of trust or confidence. I think that’s why my putting was working really well today.”
The event is the first LPGA tournament in China, putting much of the focus on the country’s homegrown talent and sole major winner Shanshan Feng, who shot a 70, one stroke behind compatriot Liying Ye.